Aggressive Jimmy Butler shines in Sixers' win over Kings

Aggressive Jimmy Butler shines in Sixers' win over Kings

For those who wanted to see Jimmy Butler be more assertive on offense, Friday was your night.

Butler was aggressive early and often, scoring a game-high 22 points in a 123-114 Sixers’ win over the Kings at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

Butler had a pretty simple explanation for why he played so well.

“It was 75 degrees outside today,” Butler said. “I just feel good. Like for real, that weather, that 75 degrees, my body felt good, we were rolling. I think everyone was comfortable. We realize how important each and every one of these games is down the stretch so it’s time to take it up a notch or two.”

Of course it wasn’t just about the weather. Butler warmed to the task inside the arena.

The 22 points were nice, but what stood out more was Butler looking to get his. The four-time All-Star took 14 shots from the field and also hit 6 of 7 from the line. He also has enjoyed and flourished in his role as facilitator, especially with the team’s second unit.

It was a different Butler than we’ve seen at times, one the Sixers are hoping shows up in the postseason.

“We will not — I’ll say not even close — we will not be as good as we can be without him playing like he plays and like he played tonight,” Brett Brown said. “I’m the coach and I got to figure out the best way to do this. Some of [it’s] with substitutions and rotations. Some of it’s his teammates recognizing. Some of it’s on him. Somewhere in the middle, if we could all meet … 

“He’s just incredibly gifted. He really is so athletic that he can make plays through that physical presence and skill package. We need him. We need him. That’s the bottom line.”

There’s been a lot of talk about Butler’s role and the number of shots he takes. Here’s the thing about Butler: he’s never been a volume shooter. Even when he was “the man” in Chicago, the highest amount of shots he averaged in a season is 16.5.

That’s not to say that there aren’t times when Butler should be a little more selfish. But if anything, it should be encouraging given how unceremonious his departure from Minnesota was. He recognizes the talent that’s around him and is fitting in with it.

“He was particularly aggressive tonight,” JJ Redick said. “I thought every time that he felt like he had a matchup that he just went at that person’s neck basically. He made plays. He ended up with [seven assists] so it wasn’t just scoring the ball, it was driving, creating havoc. Just a level of aggression he’s shown that at times for us and we’d love to see that every night for sure.”

While much has been made about his offensive output, there have been a few troubling moments on defense. Butler came to the Sixers with a reputation of being one of the best two-way wings in the game, but there’s been a few occasions where he’s failed to keep the game in front of him.

Friday was not one of those nights. In fact, this may have been the best overall performance Butler has had as a Sixer.

“I just go out there and do what I’m asked to do for the most part, to tell you the truth,” Butler said. “Play with a little bit of energy, guard, gamble a lot, and mess up on those gambles the majority of the time, but I just think it’s fun. It’s definitely fun to win, but it’s fun when everybody’s playing like that.”

When the Sixers are rolling, they’re playing fast and they’re moving the ball. When Butler is rolling, it’s normally in pick-and-roll and iso situations. But that certainly isn’t a bad thing. Come playoff time, they’ll need to be able to play both ways.

By the way, the playoffs start in mid-April, which means the weather should be decent.

That’s good news for Butler and the Sixers.

“Snow gone. We good,” Butler said. “I’ll be ready to rock.”

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Sixers sign and then waive Shizz Alston Jr., Terry Harris for purpose of adding them to Delaware Blue Coats

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Sixers sign and then waive Shizz Alston Jr., Terry Harris for purpose of adding them to Delaware Blue Coats

Updated: 2:27 p.m.

The 2019-20 Delaware Blue Coats are shaping up to be a fascinating team.

The Sixers are signing and then waiving Terry Harris, Shizz Alston Jr., Julian Washburn, Jared Brownridge and Xavier Munford with the purpose of adding them to the Blue Coats. Harris' deal is an Exhibit 9 contract.

Terry Harris is the younger brother of Sixers forward Tobias Harris, whom the team re-signed to a five-year, $180 million contract this summer. Terry played for the Sixers this year in summer league and scored nine points in three games. The 6-foot-6 wing worked out with the Sixers in June and said "it would be a blessing" to play with Tobias for the first time since eighth grade. As a redshirt senior at North Carolina A&T, Terry averaged 8.1 points per game and shot 41.1 percent from three-point range. Outside shooting is his trademark skill.

Alston grew up in Philadelphia and attended The Haverford School before going to Temple, where he played for four years. The point guard had an excellent senior season, leading Temple to a 23-10 record and averaging 19.7 points and 5.0 assists per game. Like Harris, he had a pre-draft workout for the Sixers. Alston played with the Indiana Pacers in summer league and scored 24 points across three contests.

The 6-foot-8 Washburn has 136 career games of experience in the G League, including 38 last season between the Austin Spurs and Memphis Hustle. He signed a two-way contract with the Grizzlies in January and appeared in 18 NBA games last year, averaging 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds. Washburn was part of the trade between the Grizzlies and Warriors in July involving Andre Iguodala, and was later waived by Golden State.

Brownridge, who played his college ball at Santa Clara, played 49 games (27 starts) with the Blue Coats last season. He led the G-League in threes made with 187.

Munford spent last season with the Milwaukee Bucks G-League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd. He's also played in China and Spain after his collegiate career at Rhode Island ended.

In addition to Washburn, Alston, Harris, Brownridge and Munford, 7-foot-3 Christ Koumadje, Saint Joseph's product Isaiah Miles and Haywood Highsmith are candidates for the Blue Coats this season. Those three players were part of the Sixers' preseason roster and will be waived (see story).

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Sixers waive Christ Koumadje, Haywood Highsmith and Isaiah Miles

Sixers waive Christ Koumadje, Haywood Highsmith and Isaiah Miles

Updated: 2:17 p.m.

The Sixers have waived Christ Koumadje, Isaiah Miles and Haywood Highsmith. Those moves leave the team with its regular-season roster of 15 players, with Marial Shayok and Norvel Pelle on two-way contracts.

Because Koumadje, Miles and Highsmith signed Exhibit 10 contracts this summer, they can be incentivized to join the Delaware Blue Coats. Under the terms of an Exhibit 10 deal, a player who is waived can receive a bonus of up to $50,000 if he signs with the team's G-League affiliate and stays there for at least 60 days. 

Koumadje played four years of college basketball at Florida State and stands 7-foot-3 without shoes. He’s seeking to become the first NBA player from the country of Chad. Senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley said in June at a pre-draft workout featuring Koumadje that the big man is agile for his size, which Koumadje attributed to playing soccer and running before fully focusing on basketball.

Koumadje has been seen working on his game with 7-foot-2 player development specialist Roy Hibbert. He said at media day that the Sixers’ player development staff has been helping him develop some of the finer points of his offensive game, such as non-dunk finishes near the basket and ball handling.

A 6-foot-4 wing, Highsmith played in 46 games for the Blue Coats last season, averaging 12.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He also played in five games for the Sixers, with the team converting his contract to a two-way deal in January. Highsmith, who was waived by the team this summer to free up the two-way spot used on Pelle before signing his Exhibit 10 deal, played at Division II Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.

Miles played his college basketball much closer to the Wells Fargo Center, at Saint Joseph’s, and is, like Highsmith, a native of Baltimore, Maryland. The 25-year-old was on the Sixers’ summer league teams in 2017-18 and 2018-19, and last played for Limoges CSP in France’s Pro-A league.

Based on what we saw in the preseason, below is a rough, projected depth chart by position. The backup point guard picture isn't yet clear, while several of the players at the shooting guard and small forward spots are interchangeable:

Point guard

Starter: Ben Simmons

Depth: Josh Richardson, Raul Neto/Trey Burke, Shake Milton

Shooting guard

Starter: Josh Richardson

Depth: Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, Zhaire Smith, Marial Shayok (Two-way player)

Small forward

Starter: Tobias Harris

Depth: James Ennis, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz

Power forward

Starter: Al Horford 

Depth: Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, Jonah Bolden 


Starter: Joel Embiid

Depth: Al Horford, Kyle O’Quinn, Jonah Bolden, Ben Simmons, Mike Scott, Norvel Pelle (Two-way player) 

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