He might not be the star the Sixers originally intended on getting, but Jimmy Butler is the one they got.

Saturday's NBA headlines were dominated by the surprise trade that gives the Sixers their third star and sent Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a future pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

So what does the move mean for the Sixers in terms of on-court production?

The simplest answer is that Butler gives the Sixers a shot creator they've desperately been looking for while simultaneously spacing the floor, distributing the ball and reliably defending multiple positions.

There are wrinkles and risks, as there are with most big moves. Markelle Fultz's role still needs to be figured out, Ben Simmons still needs to evolve his off-ball game, the Sixers rotation and their bench still have question marks. Locker room chemistry is, of course, an important factor.

All of that will play out and the answers will come in time, but let's look at how Butler will be make an immediate impact with the Sixers.

Space and scoring

Butler is great with the ball in his hands and he's a threat from nearly anywhere on the floor, which will keep the defense honest. He is averaging 21.3 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting overall and 37.8 percent from three-point range.

He can hit off a high pick-and-roll action or create space on his own for step-back looks:

He is a willing and reliable spot-up shooter from distance:

And, when the situation calls for some shot creation off a broken play, Butler is elite:

Crunch time

The Sixers have been desperate for a player who can create shots and score reliably in the fourth quarter and when the game is on the line. While Butler's shooting percentages are elite, he thrives late in games. This season he is shooting 49 percent overall in the fourth quarter and 50 percent from three-point range in the final 12 minutes.

Here, on pick-and-roll action with Karl-Anthony Towns — you can easily imagine Joel Embiid in Towns' place — Butler is cool and doesn't hesitate despite the waning clock:

This is the kind of play that, with Simmons or Fultz handling the ball, the defense would have no problem sagging off, doubling Embiid and killing the play. With Butler, that's not an option, and even then he's a threat.


Considering the loss of Covington, defense is what stands out the most. Butler though, is not much of a downgrade — if at all. He ranks third in the NBA in steals per game (2.4), fourth in deflections per game (3.4), and has a knack for sniffing out passing lanes.

In the above clip, Butler recognizes the double team that the Clippers' Montrezl Harrell is battling and reads which direction Harrell is turning. By the time the Harrell lets the ball fly, Butler already knows he'll have the ball and be able to break away in transition.

When tasked with on-ball coverage against some of the league's elite ball handlers, Butler has quick hands and is a threat to break away for easy scoring opportunities off a forced turnover:


It's easy to look at what Butler can do in simple terms of scoring, creation and defensive ability. It's also conceivable there could be some growing pains with his new team, especially considering that Brown is going to have to do more lineup tinkering than he already has.

But the impact that Butler can have on a game is clear: His resumé is impressive across the board and, with a winning attitude, he'll be looking to make a good impression right off the bat.