Trust the Big 3, as long as it’s not for big 3’s

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Former Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler (23) battles for position against Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) during a game in Sacramento on Friday, Nov. 9. (Steve Yeater/AP)

Former Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler (23) battles for position against Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) during a game in Sacramento on Friday, Nov. 9. (Steve Yeater/AP)

As of yesterday, the NBA’s most recent blockbuster trade became official, and Jimmy Butler is now a part of the process. The league’s saltiest superstar is most likely on his way to more wins and more smiles, and, surprisingly, less 3-point shooting. With Robert Covington and Dario Saric on their way to frigid Minnesota weather and Jimmy Buckets coming to greener (less snowy?) pastures, let’s take a look at how this trade may play out for both sides.

The Big, Bad Wolf is Gone

Much to the relief of Karl-Anthony Towns, Butler’s competitive fire and shot attempts are gone, and reinforcements that complement his game are on the way. In the three games Towns has played this season without Butler, he has averaged 26.3 points and 11 rebounds per game on 56.5 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point line. In the games he’s played with Butler, he’s cleared 26 points only once and 11 rebounds only four times. Towns will now (hopefully) assume control of the Timberwolves as the team’s leader and offensive focal point, a role he looked great in when he averaged over 25 points and 12 rebounds a game two seasons ago.

Enter Covington, an inconsistent 3-point shooter but most likely to be the best shooter on the team next to Towns. Covington’s defense will replace Butler’s, as he was named to the all-defensive first team a season ago, and that along with his shooting should make his fit seamless in Minnesota.

Saric is even more inconsistent from the three-point line than Covington, but he is only 24 years old and has potential as a playmaker and solid role-player. While the Timberwolves didn’t get a crazy haul in return for Butler’s services, they may have done addition by subtraction in unloading Butler and empowering Towns.

Smile Hinkie, You Did It

In 2013, Sam Hinkie dealt Jrue Holiday on the night of his first draft as the Philadelphia 76er’s GM, kicking off what would later be called, “The Process.” They tanked and tanked and tanked, Hinkie resigned and became a legend to those who cry “Trust the Process” and now the Sixers, five years later, are reaping the benefits of Hinkie’s vision.

The Sixers have an MVP candidate in Joel Embiid, last season’s rookie of the year Ben Simmons, and now add Jimmy Buckets, a top-20 player in the league who dominates on both sides of the ball. The Sixers may have three players on the All-Star team this year, but maybe one or two players that shoot even league average from distance. Combine that with last year’s No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz’s early struggles and confidence issues that he’s had before playing with Butler, and this team has problematic potential.

This is why I don’t see them moving up from fourth in the east over the Bucks, Raptors and Celtics. Their talent alone should be able to carry them to plenty of victories, and will be hugely beneficial in the playoffs when star players are often needed to win games, but the personalities may clash unless Embiid’s goofiness rubs off on everybody.

Well worth the gamble though, and the Sixers are now a favorite to sign Butler in the offseason. This is a deal that made sense for both teams, although I still think the Timberwolves could’ve gotten more.


Zac Lane is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at zac.lane@uconn.edu.

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