Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy.
Whenever I watch Philadelphia 76ers swingman Jimmy Butler do something dope on the court, I’m instantly reminded of a Seinfeld episode titled “The Jimmy,” where Jerry and the gang run a game of hoops with a guy named… Jimmy!
Jimmy has a strange habit of referring to himself in the third person, which has hilarious ramifications on the episode with character Elaine Benes. Here, have a laugh:
In the 76ers’ thrilling 127-125 road win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday evening, it was all about Jimmy… Butler that is.
Butler, who finds himself in Philadelphia after the awkward unraveling of his trade request from the Minnesota Timberwolves, scored 18 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and did not miss a shot from the field, going 7-7 from the floor and 4-4 from three, including the game-winner.
JIMMY BUTLER CALLED GAME!!
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) November 26, 2018
Look familiar? Well, it should.
A mere nine days ago Butler drilled the same exact bucket to put a dramatic overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets on ice, a game in which Hornets guard Kemba Walker erupted for 60 points.
JIMMY BUTLER WINS IT FOR THE 76ERS…WELCOME TO PHILLY pic.twitter.com/LVHRUF1CH8
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) November 18, 2018
Two game-winners in a little over a week is the perfect way to capture the hearts of the Philadelphia faithful. Evidently, Butler is starting to develop a fondness for the City of Brotherly Love as well.
When asked after his big game if he thinks he’s found a home with the 76ers, Butler mainly remained noncommittal, but ended his answer with some encouraging words: “I could see this being home.”
Do Jimmy Butler and the 76ers have a future? pic.twitter.com/6f4DhCJQpQ
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) November 26, 2018
Butler’s answer could be considered politics as usual, and I think most would agree that’s a pretty fair assumption based on his previous dealings with the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves.
As of late, Butler’s personality reads as unpredictable, which could mean all bets are off come free agency. Especially with the enormity of talent slated to hit the open market this offseason. Guys could be looking to shift scenes and or team up to bolster title chances.
Or keep it simple and just chase a bag. Whatever the case may be, it’s a long time until July with a lot of basketball left to be played this season. The NBA is a fickle entity, and it’s hard to predict what’ll happen eight months from now.
With all of that being said, it’s difficult to invalidate the fact that the Butler/76ers marriage is off to a pretty good start, particularly when the game has been on the line.
Butler is averaging 20.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and three assists per game in seven contests as a 76er. He’s shooting healthy percentages from the floor (51%) and three (55%) and is supplying Philadelphia with the fourth quarter heroics they had been starved for.
As of today, Butler is third in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring at 7.8 points per game in the final frame, trailing only Kemba Walker and LeBron James, both of whom shoulder mammoth loads for their respective teams.
Prior to acquiring Butler, the 76ers were 25th in the league in fourth quarter scoring, grouped in the bottom half of the league with teams such as the New York Knicks, and Phoenix Suns. They also shot an icy 42.6% from the field, and 32.7% from downtown.
They didn’t have many offensive options to exhaust outside of Joel Embiid and JJ Redick, often handicapped by a lack of creativity and shooting from the perimeter.
Simmons’ uneven scoring ability, Dario Saric and Robert Covington’s inconsistencies shooting from the floor and the Mystery of Markelle Fultz made it tough to crank out wins when the heat was on, although they were still able to reel off wins in a few close ones.
Since Butler’s first game on Nov. 14, Philly has moved up to 14th in fourth-quarter scoring, with much tidier shooting percentages at 48.1% from the field and 40% from behind the arc.
Butler himself is second on the 76ers in total clutch points scored (14) behind Joel Embiid, who has tallied 23 points in the clutch ever since Nov. 14. In addition to this, Butler is tied with Simmons for second in team crunch-time +/-, netting a +1.7 since his debut with Philadelphia.
First in crunch-time +/- is JJ Redick at +2.3.
As a team, the 76ers have gone from an ugly -4.8 Net Rating in crunch-time, to a very robust 8.2 Net Rating in the clutch. One could contest that the sample size is rather minuscule, but Butler’s presence has truly made an impact for Philadelphia late in games, a positive trend that continues to follow Butler at every stop in his career.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, since 2015-16, only Russell Westbrook has hit more shots than Butler to clinch a victory with 10 seconds or less remaining.
Since the start of the 2015-16 season, Butler has five game-winning shots with 10 seconds or less remaining. Only Russell Westbrook (seven) has more in that span, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Philadelphia has some cleaning up to do on the defensive end, and their depth issues need to be addressed sooner rather than later, but having a singular talent as Butler paired with two young studs in Embiid and Simmons allows you to sneak out wins off of the strength of the spectacular.
One interesting stat I came across on Twitter is that the 76ers have conceded 30+ points 17 times out of their 21 games. If Philadelphia truly wants to contend for the Eastern Conference crown, they’ll have to be more resistant on that end of the floor.
Players with 30+ pts vs the Sixers this year:
17 our of 21 games there has been one. https://t.co/twTEDm7JGU
— Dan-died Yams (@dansbadtweets) November 26, 2018
You’ve seen Jimmy Butler’s impact in crunch-time situations thus far for the 76ers. Now for them to take that next step, he has to continue to help this team regain their defensive mojo. Let’s see if he’s up to the task.