If you’re a Sixers fans that misses Jimmy Butler, you’re not alone.
Butler had developed a close bond with Joel Embiid. The duo was perfect on the court in the sense that Embiid consistently got off to hot starts and Butler came up clutch in the fourth quarter.
Off the court, they also developed a strong connection. Embiid mentioned on media day the impact of losing Butler and JJ Redick, another player Embiid grew close to.
“Obviously everybody had a great relationship,” Embiid said. “I'm going to miss those three guys, especially JJ and Jimmy. JJ was my guy. Jimmy is my brother, we still talk a lot. I'm going to miss them a lot.
“I don't think anything changes. But now we have more time. Last year we had a little time to get to know each other, and it started off rough. And that is my fault, too. I've gotta be a better leader. But this year, we've got a whole year to figure it out."
In an interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN's The Jump, Embiid said he would've liked to see Butler return:
Much has been made of who the Sixers’ go-to guy in the fourth quarter will be with Butler gone. Could Tobias Harris be the type of player that can fill that role? Will Ben Simmons, if he’s a equipped with a respectable jump shot, develop a closer-type mentality?
The easy answer — and one that Brett Brown has pointed to — is Embiid. Embiid is the most difficult player to defend on the Sixers because of his size and skill. But it is difficult for post players to fill that role.
That’s why Embiid has been trying to advance his skill set even further.
“This year, I feel like they're going to make everybody shoot the ball,” Embiid said. “Going into the summer, after I found out that I was losing both of them – especially because I also knew these guys were going to need me to take over. You've gotta be more than a post player. You've gotta be able to do other things, because it's easy for other teams to send double teams when you're just posting up, back to the basket. You gotta be able to attack off the dribble, you've gotta be able to shoot off the dribble.”
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