The 76ers’ acquisition of Jimmy Butler, officially announced Monday, gives the team one of the most talented trios in the NBA in Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
General manager Elton Brand goes beyond that: He says the 76ers now have three of the 20 best players in the NBA.
“We have a championship window that’s centered around the continued progression of our talented young core, as well as our ability to add elite players who elevate our program,” Brand said in a statement. “In Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, we have two of the NBA’s top 20 players. Now, we’ve added a third top-20 player in Jimmy Butler, who is one of the NBA’s very best on both ends of the floor.”
Obviously, Brand is biased in his assessment, but he’s not far off from the general consensus. Before the season, Sporting News ranked Embiid the No. 8 overall NBA player. Butler checked in at No. 12 and Simmons ranked 20th. Other publications and sites slotted Simmons a little lower, given his liability as an outside shooter.
Still, whether they’re all in the top 20, or 25 or 30, is irrelevant. Brand, who has only held the GM post since late September, clearly sees the Butler trade as a vital step in pursuing a championship. Brand paid a big price to land Butler from the Timberwolves, giving up starters Robert Covington and Dario Saric, reserve Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick. The T-Wolves also included 7-0 center Justin Patton, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2017 draft, in the deal.
Butler is expected to make his 76ers debut Wednesday night against the Magic.