After “missing out” on Kawhi Leonard, the Sixers need another star to take control of the Eastern Conference. They’re developing a ton of young talent, but they need to continue to get better from outside the organization. I love JJ Redick just as much as the next person, but he’s not a starting shooting guard on a championship team. His shooting is at an elite level, but he can’t create his own shot nor can he keep up on the defensive end. Maybe Fultz will eventually take his place in the starting lineup, but you can never have too much talent… just ask the Golden State Warriors.
The Sixers need to look for someone who can create his own shot, and play both sides of the ball. Look no further than the recently disgruntled Wolves All-Star Guard, Jimmy Butler. Butler has grown tired of his young teammates, Karl-Anthony “Nonchalance-is-my-middle-name” Towns and Andrew “Defense-is-my-calling-card-despite-being-a-garbage-defender” Wiggins. While maturity off the court isn’t necessarily the 76ers calling card, they take the game very seriously. Butler’s nose to the grindstone attitude would be a great addition to the locker room in Philly.
Butler would fill in the gaps where Philly has struggled in the past. It was obvious in the series against the Celtics that Simmons couldn’t create his own shot on a consistent basis. Jimmy can do that. JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli were a breath of fresh air from beyond the arc, but were consistently overmatched on the defensive end. They are too slow to cover guards, and not strong enough to cover forwards. Jimmy was named to the All-Defensive second team four of the last five years, and while he can’t shoot as well from three point range as Redick (42% in 2017-18) or Belinelli (37.7% in 2017-18), his 35% from three is serviceable.
Jimmy Butler brings a variety of skills to the table. He can create his own shot, he’s a good shooter, and he’s an excellent scorer. At 6’8 and 230 lbs, Butler is big and strong for a guard. This helps him finish through contact, and manhandle opponents on the defensive end. Even though the Wolves have a physical freak in Andrew Wiggins, they consistently have Butler cover the opponent’s best player. His passing ability is underrated too. I rewatched several Wolves games over the past few days and my biggest takeaway was his ability to make decisions in mid-air. While he’s driving to the basket, he’s aware of the play continuing to develop around him and often finds teammates for easy buckets.
It has been rumored that Butler is attempting to team up with Kyrie Irving this offseason. While this is pipe dream level speculation, the Sixers would definitely sign both of them. Sixers fans, imagine you woke up on July 1st, 2019 to a starting five of Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid. Ok, now zip up your fly and calm down. I said it was a pipe dream.
So how do the Sixers get their hands on Butler? They can either trade for him or wait until next summer when his contract is up to sign him. The Sixers will run into the same issues they did when they considered trading for Kawhi. (See: The Case Against Kawhi) They’ll need to get a guarantee that Butler will re-sign at season’s end. Maybe a cheesesteak and a ‘wooder ice’ will help him make his decision.