It’s a fresh start for Jimmy Butler in Philadelphia. Nobody cares what happened in Chicago and Minnesota if Butler plays hard, gels with his teammates and helps lead the 76ers deep into the postseason. To give the 76ers a chance.
Butler said all of the right things during Tuesday’s press conference. He spoke highly of Joel Embiid and positively about Markelle Fultz. He repeated he didn’t care what people thought of him, because he knew the kind of person he was.
Wednesday night Butler will play with his new teammates for the first time. He seems to be happy to be in Philadelphia after holding the Timberwolves hostage for the past eight weeks. He wanted out, and now he has an opportunity to secure a five-year max contract. The 76ers can give him the most. The most money, but also the best chance to win a championship, among teams with space. Brett Brown, before the 76ers defeated the Miami Heat Monday night, hinted at a change in the starting line-up. Butler will assumably take Fultz’s spot beginning Wednesday night. JJ Redick and Wilson Chandler will join Butler as full-time starters. It makes the most sense for Brown to go that direction
This doesn’t mean the end for Fultz. There’s clearly a commitment to giving Fultz minutes and unsurprisingly he’s been incredibly inconsistent. He had some really great moments against the Grizzlies Saturday night, but had that hiccup of a free throw Monday night that’s made the rounds on every social media platform known to mankind. It was brutal. You feel for him above all else. You hope he can get through whatever he’s going through. It’s going to take time, but obviously the 76ers don’t have all of the time in the world like they did in previous seasons. There’s a real chance at making a run in the Eastern Conference with Butler in the fold, which means there’s no waiting for anyone stuck behind. It means it’s time for Brown to bring Fultz off the bench.
The line-up flexibility by trading Dario Saric actually plays in Philadelphia’s favor. I love Saric. He plays basketball so astoundingly hard with the right passion, drive and pluck but the reality was he faced shortcomings as a stretch four that needed to be a 40 percent shooter. If he couldn’t consistently hit threes, the 76ers spacing suffered majorly. Defensively, Saric couldn’t adequately switch, either. Now, Brown will use plenty of wings to pair with Embiid. Saric was always the most expendable player as awesome as he was, and that’s why people shouldn’t be freaked out that Covington was the most important player Minnesota acquired. You’d much rather have Covington over Saric if you’re Philadelphia. A Simmons-Redick-Butler-Covington-Embiid lineup is terrifying.
A Tweet has surfaced about how poorly the 76ers have been with fourth quarter scoring and inversely how effective Butler has been. As great as Butler will be defensively, the most relevant part of acquiring Butler has to be in crunch time.It’s been a two-man effort in fourth quarters to often. It’s either Redick running around screens or a drop-off to Embiid in the post. Covington and Saric held their ground as spot-up shooters, certainly, but to have a player operating on the wing who can attack the basket, find an open teammate or rise up for a jumper will do wonders for this offense.
It’s an exciting time after how undermanned the 76ers looked against the Raptors last month. There needed to be a change. Butler represents another 20-point scorer. A player to keep up with Boston’s solidified wings, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s not at the level of Leonard or Antetokounmpo, but his vast and multi-facet offensive game will be welcomed. Simmons didn’t do anything against Leonard last month. Butler will give the 76ers a chance.