Tue, Nov 13, 3:40pm by Head Editor
When it was announced on Sunday (AEDT) that four-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler would be joining the Philadelphia 76ers, it blew up the internet, and down here in Australia, fans were excited to see the 29-year-old join Aussie prodigy Ben Simmons in Philly, but can the inclusion of the shooting guard take the 76ers to the NBA Finals?
Looking at his statistics, he averages over 20 points per game in each of his last six seasons, you would have to say yes, but the Houston-native does bring some baggage with him, that has some pundits questioning the trade, given that Philly are obviously on the way up, having reached the conference semi-finals last season, when they were bundled out 4-1 by the Boston Celtics.
After being drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the 30th pick in the 2011 NBA draft, the 203-centimetre Texan made a strong start to his career which led to him being named the NBA’s most improved player in 2015 but over the last two seasons, there have been some rumblings that he did cause a few problems in the Bulls locker room and then again in Minnesota, where he was traded to before the start of the 2017-2018 season.
While it remains to be seen how Butler will adapt to his new surroundings, this news.com.au report suggests that he will be expected to “toe the line” at his new club.
The Brett-Brown coached 76ers sent starters Dario Saric and Robert Covington and Jerryd Bayless along with a 2022 second-round draft pick in exchange for the unsettled Timberwolves star and Justin Patton, which did draw some criticism from some pundits, including Chris Broussard, who told Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd that Butler may not be a good fit in Philly, and even said that Minnesota may have won this trade.
Young Croatian power forward Saric has been a solid contributor for Philly in his two seasons at the franchise, averaging 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while the undrafted free-agent Covington averaged slightly less in those categories, at 12.6 and 5.5 but is regarded as a better defender and can shoot the three ball, averaging .390 in three point attempts last season.
The 76ers won their match against the Miami Heat 124-114 on Tuesday (AEDT), while Butler’s first game for his new side is expected to be Thursday’s (AEDT) outing against Orlando Magic, before his first home game on Saturday (AEDT) against the Utah Jazz.
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) November 12, 2018
The next time that Australian NBA fans will get to see Butler’s former side, the Timberwolves in action, on ESPN Australia, will be on Thursday (AEDT), and we’ve previewed that match below.
New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves
Thursday, 15 November 2018 at 12pm at Target Center, Minneapolis
New Orleans and Minnesota both featured in last season’s playoffs but have struggled so far this season and sit in the bottom half of the Western Conference standings.
The Timberwolves ended their recent five game road trip 0-5 and dropped to 0-8 on the road in a dismal sequence of games for the franchise and it was following their 11-point loss to Sacramento, that the news broke that disgruntled star Jimmy Butler had been traded to Philadelphia.
The move gives the Wolves more depth and given Butler’s poor form this season, it may be the spark they need to kick start their season as they sit at 4-9.
New Orleans hasn’t faired much better, despite its hot start that included four wins to open their campaign.
The Pelicans have won two in a row but are just 1-5 on the road and 6-6 on the season with injuries cruelling their starting lineup with Elfrid Payton and Nikola Mirotic the latest to miss game time.
It was Minnesota who swept the Pelicans last season, winning all four games between the teams.
Each of those wins came by double digits for the Wolves, after they were swept in the 2016-17 season by New Orleans.
These two teams rank 27th and 28th in opponents points per game, but New Orleans is the more prolific offensive team, scoring 118 points per game to rank fourth in the NBA.
The Wolves may take time to gel with their new players coming in from Philadelphia and it is difficult to see how they will get past the Pelicans in this one.
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