Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers knows that the team is slowly coming into its own after a breakout 2018-19 NBA season. They are one of the tipped teams for the coming season although the Cameroonian center knows that losing Jimmy Butler is big.
The Sixers made a great run in the last NBA playoffs before Kawhi Leonard shut the door on them in the Eastern Conference Finals. Embiid and Butler played a huge role in that run and the third overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft admits that both of them had grown close when he talked to Rachel Nichols of ESPN’s “The Jump.”
“We talk a lot, that’s my guy, that’s my brother forever. I wish he was still on the team, because I feel like the relationship that I built with him could have gone a long way. When it was the fourth quarter, we knew the ball would either be in me or Jimmy’s hands. I knew I could count on him. This year it kind of changes around. Now other guys have to step up and I have to do more,” said Embiid.
In the eyes of most, Butler was seen as someone who players would have a hard time getting along with. He had that infamous tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves where he was allegedly going so hard on young stars like Karl-Anthony Towns, ESPN reported. But it now appears the 30-year-old swingman had good reason to be that tough.
When Butler joined the Sixers, most questioned how he would get along with rising young stars as Embiid and Ben Simmons. Seeing how Philly managed to make things work, everything turned out for the best. But that was not enough to keep the four-time NBA All-Star who opted to join the Miami Heat.
Embiid and Simmons need to step up and fill the hole left by Butler. They try to improve on their previous NBA playoff performance with new faces such as Al Horford and Tobias Harris.
“Obviously, we still have to prove ourselves. We lost a big piece in Jimmy, he did a lot of great things for us, but we should be up there. On paper, we got a really good team so now it’s on us to go out there and actually prove it,” said Embiid.