Philadelphia 76ers: Jimmy Butler deserves an All-Star replacement nod

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

With Victor Oladipo out for the season, the NBA has to find a replacement All-Star reserve: that player should be Philadelphia 76ers forward Jimmy Butler.

The Philadelphia 76ers are the only team in the Eastern Conference with three All-Stars… at least until they weren’t.

That’s right, the NBA has officially released the All-Star reserves list, and there are a number of familiar faces on the team, like former Sixers big man Nikola Vucevic and current Sixers point guard/power forward Ben Simmons.

However, one player who many assumed was a shoo-in to make the squad’s name was noticeably missing: Jimmy Butler.

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Now granted, Butler is a curious case, as he technically played the first 10 games of the regular season in the Western Conference, and all but destroyed the T-Wolves in the process, but still, after earning All-Star berths in the four previous seasons, split between Chicago and Minnesota, it’s bizarre to see Jimmy Buckets absent from the NBA’s best in show.

But all hope isn’t lost for Butler.

You see, after suffering a season-ending ruptured right quadriceps tendon, Victor Oladipo isn’t going to be appearing at an All-Star game any time soon, leaving a potential spot up for grabs for pretty much any player in the conference to fill.

Right now, it appears to be a two-man race: Jimmy Butler vs. D’Angelo Russell.

Though the decision ultimately falls on commissioner Adam Silvers’ shoulders, as he is responsible for naming the replacements like he did three times last season, if we are digging into the stats, it’s a pretty easy decision.

On paper, the duo have pretty similar resumes; each averaging about 19.5 points, in 30ish minutes of action a night while knocking down 38 percent of their 3 point shots. Unsurprisingly, Butler, a forward, has the edge in rebounds (4.9 vs. 3.8) and Russell, a point guard, has the edge in assists (6.4 v. 3.7).

However, their roles could not be more different.

You see, Butler is the Philadelphia 76ers’ closer. He’s the dude on the wings you want to have the ball on a final possession, with the gumption to take a fearless, less than high percentage iso shot.

Russell, on the other hand, has often been sidelined for his backup, Spencer Dinwiddie, during crunch time, a bad sign of a less-than-complete player. Furthermore, Russell was actually pulled from a recent contest against the Celtics in the fourth quarter because of his lack of effort on the defensive end of the court.

Now you can call Butler a lot of things, like a whole lot of things, but a no effort guy is decidedly not one of them.

While neither player is particularly popular around the league, as they both helped to sow the seeds of chaos with the Timberwolves and Lakers respectively, resulting in a pair of four-quarters for a $1 trades, at least teams respect Butler for his effort, fire, and defensive ferocity, a claim that Russell can’t yet claim confidently.

Next. DeAndre Jordan is now a viable buy-out candidate. dark

But no matter how you want to weigh on-court accolades, individual statistics, and team success, it’s clear Jimmy Butler has transformed the Philadelphia 76ers from an underachiever failing to live up to their 2018 postseason performances in the Marco Belinelli/Ersan Ilyasova-less world, into a team who could legitimately take on any Eastern Conference team in a seven-game stint. That is the mark of a true All-Star.