Jimmy Butler on adjusting to Sixers: ‘Basketball is basketball to me’
Despite his lack of practice time in Philadelphia so far, Jimmy Butler is obviously picking things up quickly. The Sixers realize he's not only a good player, but Butler is gifted intellectually and has a high basketball IQ. And he's displaying veteran leadership.
CHARLOTTE – One gets the impression that Jimmy Butler is destined to have a bigger imprint on what the 76ers are doing.
That's a good thing for a team determined to reach the NBA Finals. He's already lifted them to two victories while trying to learn the terminology and plays.
"Basketball is basketball to me, to tell you the truth," Butler said of adjusting to his new teammates. "I think we play basketball the right way. We guard. We're in it together.
"Time is going to come [when] we are going to have practice time. We are going to have shootarounds, film [study]. I'll pick up quicker sooner than later."
That could be a scary thought for Eastern Conference foes based on the results of Butler's first week with the team after being officially acquired last Monday from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He finished with 14 points in his Sixers debut on Wednesday, basically deferring to his teammates in the 111-106 loss at Orlando. Butler was more aggressive in the next two games, lifting the Sixers to back-to-back victories over the Utah Jazz and Charlotte Hornets.
Butler had 28 points, seven assists, three rebounds and two steals in the home win over the Jazz. Then the swingman's three-pointer with 0.3 seconds left lifted the Sixers to a 122-119 overtime victory over the Hornets Saturday night in Charlotte. The play came 15.4 seconds after Butler blocked Hornets all-star Kemba Walker's 9-foot jumper and tapped the defensive rebound to teammate Wilson Chandler while going out of bounds. He finished with 15 points, four assists, two steals, and two blocks.
"It's a gift that you think you know what you have," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of the four-time All-Star and four-team all-defensive performer. "To see it unfold in real time, it's elite all over the place. You have an all-league defensive player, making an all-league defensive play in crunch time. And you have an NBA All-Star winning the game in real time at the other end."
Brown said the package of both plays equals an elite player and added, "He's ours."
He's graded Butler's progress since the trade as an A-plus.
"To have someone who can come into a locker room and he is a man and pro and he acts and performs like one," Brown said. "It is fantastic to have him with us."
Butler is averaging 19.0 points, 4.3 assists, 1.3 steals and shooting 42.9 percent on three-pointers, and 57.9 percent overall, as a Sixer.
Despite the lack of practice time, he's obviously picking things up quickly. The Sixers realize he's not only a good player, but Butler is gifted intellectually and has a high basketball IQ.
He's also displaying veteran leadership, doing on-court coaching when need be. A prime example came when he took time to go over a scenario with Ben Simmons in the second half of Saturday's game.
"That's what it's really about, being able to communicate in the moment, and work through things as a team," JJ Redick said. "The best teams I've always been on are able to be vocal with each other, be open and honest with each other, and be able to say the truth in a moment's notice."
Butler's fourth game with the Sixers will be Monday night against the Phoenix Suns at Wells Fargo Center. They'll then host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. After traveling to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, the Sixers return home for games against the New York Knicks (Nov. 28), Washington Wizards (Nov. 30), and Memphis Grizzlies (Dec. 2).
"Let's keep this thing rolling," Butler said. "Get as many [wins] as we can. … So take care of the home floor."