Sixers veteran big man Amir Johnson wins NBA's Hustle award

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Sixers veteran big man Amir Johnson wins NBA's Hustle award

Ben Simmons wasn’t the only Sixer to walk out of Monday’s NBA awards ceremony with a trophy.

Teammate Amir Johnson became the second-ever recipient of the league’s Hustle award.

“This is definitely an honor,” Johnson said. “I pride myself on doing the little things on the court and I just want to say thank you to my teammates and coaches. This award means a lot.”

The Hustle award is given to the NBA player with the highest aggregate hustle score each year. The score is calculated on: 

• Players who played a minimum of 50 regular season games and at least 15 minutes per game.

• Five hustle stats: screen assists, deflections, loose balls recovered, charges drawn and shot contests.

• Players were compared by position (G/F/C) within each statistic on a per-minute basis.

• Within each statistic, a metric was calculated for each player based on his relative performance.

Johnson, in his 14th season overall and first as a Sixer, averaged 2.5 screen assists, 1.0 deflections, 0.7 loose balls recovered, 0.08 charges drawn and 5.5 contested shots per game. He added 4.6 points and 4.5 rebounds a night as the team's primary reserve big man.

The veteran beat out Indiana’s Thaddeus Young, Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr., Simmons and Anthony Davis to claim the award.

“Amir Johnson is a true professional and meant so much to our team and locker room this past season,” Sixers head coach and interim general manager Brett Brown said in a statement. “His work ethic and grit had a significant positive impact on our program and culture, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s been recognized with this award.”

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After Jimmy Butler trade, Elton Brand isn't done dealing

After Jimmy Butler trade, Elton Brand isn't done dealing

CAMDEN, N.J. — Sixers general manager Elton Brand isn’t done dealing. 

At Tuesday’s introductory press conference for his new star, Jimmy Butler, and center Justin Patton, Brand unsurprisingly said he plans to fill the open spot on the Sixers’ roster. But he’s not going to rush to make another trade.

“Despite what's been reported, we're going to take our time and evaluate the landscape,” he said. “We feel like we can actually add an important piece with that roster spot, so we're not in a rush. Nothing is imminent right now, but we think we can use that to do some real damage and help our team.”

Brand may have been referring to the reports connecting the Sixers with Kyle Korver. Though Furkan Korkmaz has impressed in the Sixers’ last two games, with back-to-back career highs in scoring and a combined 28 points on 9 for 17 shooting, Korver is a proven NBA shooter. In his 15-plus seasons, Korver is a 43.1 percent three-point shooter, and he’s had the best percentage in the league four times. His 2,225 career three-point makes are fourth-most in NBA history.

Shooting is an obvious need for the Sixers — the team lost 11.3 three-point attempts per game in Robert Covington and Dario Saric. Butler is a capable long-range shooter (35.4 percent over the last four-plus seasons), though he acknowledged Tuesday it’s not one of his greatest strengths. 

The Sixers are 22nd in the NBA in three-point percentage at 33.7 percent. While some of that number can be attributed to Saric’s poor start to the season and the shooting slump JJ Redick has recently shrugged off, Brand has no doubt that another shooter is required, whether it’s Korver or someone else.

“The way we like to play, shooting is at a premium,” Brand said. “We need shooting. We absolutely will evaluate the market and see what’s out there. We’re getting tons of calls but nothing is imminent. We haven’t decided, ‘Hey, this is the player for us now.’ But that open roster spot can pay some big dividends.”

For Brand, patience paid off with the Butler trade. He mentioned Tuesday that he had daily phone calls with Timberwolves general manager Scott Layden. Minnesota reportedly passed on a number of attractive deals from other teams, including the Heat’s offer of promising wing Josh Richardson and a first-round pick (see story), before eventually accepting Brand's deal.

"It’s tough to get these superstar players, All-Star level talent, as we know," Brand said. "I talked with a GM, he was waiting for a certain player for three years … he didn’t even get a sit-down with him. It’s hard to get free agents in the open market. When you have an opportunity to add a Jimmy Butler, four-time All-Star, one of the best players in the NBA, I feel I had to pounce.”

Complementary pieces, however, tend to be easier to acquire. Unless a bargain trade materializes, Brand could wait until the buyout market develops before adding another piece. 

“I’m taking my time," he said. "This (trade) is a step toward getting to the Finals, in my opinion. The championship talk is a little premature for me. But this is definitely a step in that direction. There’s still work to do. Maybe not trades or anything like that, but we have an open roster spot and we’re definitely going to be evaluating our team.”

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Prop bets for Jimmy Butler's Sixers debut

Prop bets for Jimmy Butler's Sixers debut

Jimmy Butler prop bets are out, giving us some fun stats to think about in addition to serving as projections for his averages with the Sixers.

If you think Butler will lead both teams in scoring in his debut Wednesday in Orlando, there's money to be made.

Butler is +350 to lead the game in scoring, per Caesars Palace, meaning a $100 bet pays out $350. If he ties for the game-high in points, that is considered a win.

The over/under for Butler's points scored is 19.5, which is also a fair estimate of his season-long average on a team with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and JJ Redick.

The combined over/under for Butler's rebounds and assists against the Magic is 9.5. Butler has exceeded that figure in five of the 10 games he's played this season.

And lastly, a bet that Butler will lead the Sixers in scoring in a win over the Magic pays out 3/1.

Even though he's new to the system, Butler will likely exceed 30 minutes in his Sixers debut. They need those minutes with two starters now in Minnesota. And though the Magic are a bad team and a blowout could lead to an early exit for Butler, Orlando has won four of its last six games and lost by just a point to the Sixers on Oct. 20 in Philly. This could still be a competitive game

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