It was only for half a season, but Jimmy Butler poured his heart out for the Sixers. He stepped up in late-game situations, was not shy about guarding the opposing team's best player, and challenged his teammates to better themselves on a regular basis.
No matter how much of a headcase he could be at times, he was dependable. Now that he is gone, Joel Embiid told Rachel Nichols on ESPN’s The Jump today how he and his team will miss his presence this upcoming season.
“It was a big loss because me and him, we got to the point where we were really close – we’re still close. We talk a lot, that’s my guy, that’s my brother forever. I wish he was still on the team, because I feel like the relationship that I built with him could have gone a long way. When it was the fourth quarter, we knew the ball would either be in me or Jimmy’s hands. I knew I could count on him. This year it kind of changes around. Now other guys have to step up and I have to do more.”
It's hard to say how the Sixers will fare this season without Butler. The combo tandem of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid should be enough to get them far in the playoffs, but will it be enough to get them all the way?
They are hoping that after a summer of improvements and growth, they will be able to finally take that next step. What they learned from Butler will be key in helping them get there.