Jimmy Butler looked comfortable in his 76ers debut.
The star guard finished with 14 points on 6-12 shooting and also grabbed four rebounds, but Philadelphia fell to Orlando 111-106. The 76ers struggled defensively despite Butler’s presence in the lineup, allowing the Magic to shoot 50 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from deep.
Butler didn’t dominate offensively and allowed his shots to come within the flow of the game. This is encouraging for 76ers fans wondering how smoothly Butler’s integration would come. As a result, Butler finished third in total shots for the game behind Joel Embiid and J.J. Redick. Wilson Chandler added 10 shots of his own.
Ben Simmons took a backseat with Butler in the fold, attempting just five field goals after averaging 11.1 attempts entering the night. Simmons will likely look to distribute and create for others more often now that Butler will command shots. If he can be effective on drive-and-kick opportunities with Butler providing an additional shooter, Simmons should maintain his stellar production.
Another thing to watch is Markelle Fultz’s development with Butler in the lineup. Fultz was pushed out of the starting lineup in favor of Butler and the second-year guard has experienced a lot of criticism for his poor shooting form. Will Butler get annoyed with Fultz in the same way that he did with former teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins? Will Fultz’s development suffer as he sees more minutes with bench players?
The 76ers are now 9-7 on the season. Stadium NBA Insider Shams Charania said the team likely wouldn’t have made the trade for Butler if it had gotten off to a better start. Butler gives Philadelphia a third star, but how quickly will the on-court results catch up?