Last night saw the debut of Jimmy Butler in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform. While the results weren’t there as the team lost and Butler only managed 14 points, but you could see the outlines of a fit. It will take some time. Ben Simmons will need to adjust some of his game, Joel Embiid will have to give up some touches, and Butler will need to play off-ball more, but you could see where this team can really contend in the Eastern Conference. They are one of only two teams with three of the best 20 players in the NBA (and the other is the greatest dynasty of all-time) which makes them a contender. Let’s take a look at what it’s done to their betting odds.
[geocode id=2]When the season opened, the 76ers were between +1500 and +2000 in the 2019 NBA Championship futures. Bovada had them at +1600 and that number now sits at +1400. While Sports Interaction took them from +1500 to +1300. The difference is small, but it is there. Considering the red hot starts of the Toronto Raptors with Kawhi Leonard and the Milwaukee Bucks with Giannis Antetokounmpo, that is pretty impressive. They are still behind the Celtics in the odds which is both surprising and unsurprising. They have been a huge disappointment, but come the playoffs you know they are going to be there.
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Things are pretty much the same in the Eastern Conference winner odds. This is where they opened:
And this is where they are now:
Honestly, I was expecting a larger change in the odds based on this trade. As I said in the opening, this trade gives the Sixers three of the best 25 players in this league which is something that Boston, Milwaukee and Toronto cannot say. While the trade did open up some holes, the team started Wilson Chandler at power forward last night, there is still plenty of times to add in that regard.
One has to wonder what the team’s next move is. They would be better served adding another forward/shooter to the mix. The good thing about having guys like Butler and Simmons is that they can defend multiple positions. The team will get rookie Zhaire Smith back at some point, but he can hardly be counted on for being an impact addition. The Markelle Fultz drama continues to haunt this team and with such a big spotlight on him, you have to wonder if his development might be better served by a trade to place where every shot attempt isn’t being hyper analyzed. This team is built to win now, he is not that player. Not yet.
I don’t think we’ll see anything out of this team until at least mid-December. The 15th of December is when players who signed in the offseaon are now eligible to be traded and that’s when I expect things to start happening. The Sixers should also be very active on the buyout market which netted them Marco Bellinelli and Ersan Ilyasova last season. As things stand, I can’t fully endorse going for the Sixers to win the East and the Atlantic Division championship odds feel like a long shot with the Raptors starting so hot.