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4 Things to Watch in Jimmy Butler’s 76ers Debut: How Ben Simmons Needs to Adjust

Nov 14, 2018 5:35 PM EST
  • Jimmy Butler will make his debut with the 76ers on Wednesday night as 6-point favorites. The over/under is set at 218.5.
  • Ben Simmons will have to make the biggest adjustment to playing with Butler. The 76ers should look to utilize him in a Draymond Green-esque way.

Tonight is the first opportunity to see the new-look super-team in the East, as Jimmy Butler will make his Philadelphia 76ers debut. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Sixers won’t be juggernauts right away, either (though playing the Magic will help).

Here are four key elements to start watching right away with the new-look Sixers.

1. Ben Simmons has the most to adjustment coming

Simmons will have the ball less, that’s a basic supply-and-demand function. Joel Embiid will need his same amount of touches. Butler can play a two-man game easier with Embiid. Butler will get his touches; he’s the superstar for whom they just traded multiple assets.

Markelle Fultz’s frankly depressing issues have masked the issues Simmons’ game now presents. Opponents are wise to Simmons’ inability to shoot, and the game plan against him is starting to reflect it.

Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ben Simmons

Simmons gets 24.6% of all his scoring possessions in transition, which is the ninth-highest percentage for any player with at least 50 total transition possessions this season, according to Synergy Sports.

That’s where he’s getting most of his points — and even there, he’s struggled. He has the highest turnover rate in transition (29%) of any player in the league and is 20th percentile scoring.

Now, Simmons is an incredible playmaker, so naturally, his points per possession mark skyrockets when you factor in assists.

The struggle comes with how he and Butler fit together. Opponents will likely start helping off Simmons more when Butler has the ball, daring him to make them pay with cuts, which he absolutely can.

The key is that Simmons will have to find more ways to be impactful off-ball, more in the mold of what Lonzo Ball does (and Ball isn’t exactly killing it so far in LA).


Defensively, Simmons will help Butler and vice versa. That’s a natural fit. If the opponent’s primary wing threat is bigger, Simmons can counter with his length and athleticism. If the opponent is smaller, sick Butler’s dogged pressure on him. With Embiid as the backline defense, an already incredible defense should improve…

If they have enough size.

2. Are the Sixers too small now? 

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-2.5
215.5
-2.5
217.5
-2
214
-3.5
220.5
-1.5
214
-1
213
219.5
-5
217.5
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221
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223
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205.5
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203
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232
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234.5
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223
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225
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209.5
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212.5
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-2
228
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228
227.5
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227
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