Jimmy Butler not worried about on-court fit with Sixers’ ball-dominant young stars
The newly acquired star conceded that he had the ball a lot in Minnesota, but said that was by design, and that he welcomes the Sixers' offensive system focused on passing.
MIAMI – When word leaked Saturday that Jimmy Butler would be joining the 76ers, the NBA realm came to a standstill.
Not only did his trade to the Sixers come as a surprise, the move raises a major question. How will the ball-dominant swingman fit in with new teammates Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons?
After four days of speculations, we'll get a glimpse of the new-look Sixers (9-6) on Wednesday night. That's when Butler will make his debut against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center.
Butler acknowledged Tuesday that he had the ball a lot with the Minnesota Timberwolves before being traded Monday with Justin Patton in exchange for Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick.
But the 29-year-old doesn't feel that will prohibit him from playing the Sixers' style of basketball. He said he was asked to be ball dominant with the Timberwolves.
"I don't think that's a problem," he said of sharing the ball. "I think I'm great at shooting the ball, moving without the ball. If I need the ball, I'll go steal it, go to the other end and lay it up. I'll go get an offensive rebound.
"There's more than one way to get the ball."
Butler thinks the Sixers style of sharing the ball and setting screens is easier than having to create all the time in pick-and-rolls and isolation situations.
Philly is ranked fourth in the NBA in assists per game at 26.1 heading into Tuesday's NBA games. But coach Brett Brown acknowledged Monday the team can't depend just of having ball movement, especially late in games. That's when Butler's ability to thrive in pick-and-rolls and isolation will benefit the Sixers.
Their biggest weakness has long been not having someone who can create his own shot.
On Wednesday, he will look to help the Sixers improve to 3-6 on the road. A victory would also mark their second win in as many meetings this season against the Magic (6-8). The Sixers escaped with a 116-115 victory on Oct. 20 at the Wells Fargo Center.
On that night, JJ Redick finished with a team-high 31 points while making 8 of 13 three-pointers. With his team trailing, 114-113, the guard made the go-ahead three-pointer with 17.7 seconds left. Evan Fournier also had 31 points while making 6 of 10 three-pointers to pace Orlando. Former Sixers center Nikola Vučević had his second career triple-double with 27 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 12 assists.
It will be interesting to see how many minutes Embiid plays and if Furkan Korkmaz plays at all.
Embiid has logged 35 minutes, 40 seconds (Monday vs. Miami Heat), 39:22 (Saturday vs. Memphis Grizzlies) and 39:03 (Friday vs. Charlotte Hornets) in the last three games.
Friday's and Saturday's games both went to overtime.
"I don't like him playing that many minutes," Brown said of 35 minutes and up. "Ultimately, I feel like it's two minutes or three minutes too much. When you start to get the team healthy and [power forward] Wilson [Chandler] has no minutes restriction and Jimmy comes in, you're not as much a prisoner when circumstances come up."
Meanwhile, Korkmaz benefited from the Sixers having an undermanned roster before the Sixers and Timberwolves trade was finalized.
He only saw mostly mop-up duty in six of the team first 13 games. However, he made 3 of 7 three-pointers en route to scoring 12 points in 22:53 on Friday. Then on Monday, the guard had a career-high 16 points while making 3 of 6 three-pointers in 22:25.
"I just want to be perfect for the team," Korkmaz said Monday. "I want to keep showing my team that I can play in any role, and I did tonight."