Bucks

Bucks Still Have Edge over 76ers Despite Butler Trade

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After weeks of asking to be traded, calling out his teammates, and cheering on the Warriors with their fans, Jimmy Butler has finally been traded.

Philly’s biggest weakness before this trade was their depth — now we can’t tell if their biggest weakness is their depth or their three-point shooting. Their “Big 3” of Butler, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid is dangerous, and J.J. Redick is a lights out shooter, but other than those four, they don’t have much to work with.

Bucks vs. 76ers

First we will start by comparing the starting lineups. Dario Saric and Robert Covington were both starting, and now they’re gone, so somebody will have to step up. It could be J.J. Redick, or it could be Wilson Chandler. Their starting lineup could look like this:

Markelle Fultz, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

That is very good, but the bench will not look so good.

Milwaukee’s starting lineup will continue to be:

Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez

That is also very good, and it is accompanied by a very strong bench.

How Do They Stack Up?

Position by position, assuming we call Simmons a forward who controls the ball most of the time, the Bucks are still superior.

Eric Bledsoe vs. Markelle Fultz

Eric Bledsoe is miles better than Markelle Fultz. Bledsoe is quicker, passes better, gets to the hoop faster, is far superior on the defensive end, and makes enough jumpers to not get a standing ovation from the home crowd every time he does it. Obviously, Fultz is still young and has a lot of potential to improve, but for the Jimmy Butler era that may only last through this season, Bledsoe is much better.

Edge: Bucks

Malcolm Brogdon vs. J.J. Redick

Brogdon is more dynamic and not as one-dimensional as Redick, plus he is way better defensively. Redick is a great player and is far and away Philadelphia’s best shooter, but he can’t do as much as Brogdon. Malcolm shoots at a similar clip as Redick from 3, is very deceivingly quick and can get to the basket way better than Redick can. Malcolm also has ball handling and facilitating skills, while Redick is mostly a catch & shoot/spot up player. He isn’t a triple threat like Brogdon is.

Edge: Bucks

Khris Middleton vs. Jimmy Butler

Khris Middleton has evolved into a similar player to Jimmy Butler; not quite as good on the defensive end but with a better deep jumper and facilitating skills. In his prime, Jimmy has been the top player on each of his teams, having to lead the team in many statistical categories. Khris, however, has been playing behind Giannis, and his numbers have been almost just as good. Jimmy is a better defender, but Khris is no slouch on defense himself. This is the most even matchup from the starting lineups, most people would say Butler is much better, but from watching Khris so much and some Bucks fan bias, I don’t think I can say either is better than the other.

Edge: Even

Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Ben Simmons

Giannis is better than Ben Simmons, and it really isn’t close. Everybody likes to say that Simmons is the next LeBron because he is a forward who plays like a guard and can get rebounds– but that’s what Giannis is, but better. Simmons gets more assists than Giannis and he is a great passer, but that is because he actually starts at the point guard position. If Philadelphia has a more reliable point guard, say someone like Eric Bledsoe, Simmons’ assist numbers would be down because he wouldn’t have the ball 100% of the time. Giannis also gets way more rebounds and scores from everywhere on the floor better than Simmons.

Edge: Bucks

Brook Lopez vs. Joel Embiid

Brook Lopez is NOT better than Joel Embiid– we’ll give the 76ers that one. Embiid is a freak (but not a greek freak)– there’s no other way to put it. Brook Lopez is an awesome piece for this team, providing spacing, paint protection and good team rebounding, but Embiid does all of that too. Lopez is a good matchup to defend Embiid, being a big body who can box him out to prevent offensive rebounds, but Embiid is still a lot quicker and can score from anywhere on the floor too. Although he can’t shoot the three as well as Brook, he is still a threat from anywhere.

Edge: Sixers

Depth

Entering the season, there were a lot of questions about Philadelphia’s depth after letting Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Bellinelli leave. They began the year with a starting lineup of Embiid, Simmons, Fultz, Robert Covington and Dario Saric. Leaving the bench with Redick, TJ McConnell, and injured Wilson Chandler and a whole bunch of “who is that guy” players. For Butler, they sent away two of their starters, and it is assumed that Redick will join Butler in the starting lineup. The projected starting lineup for Philadelphia will look incredible now, but the bench now will be made up of McConnell, Chandler and literally nothing else.

Meanwhile, the Bucks have former Sixer Ersan Ilyasova, Donte DiVincenzo, Tony Snell, John Henson, Pat Connaughton, and secret weapon Thon Maker all playing very efficient and solid minutes when on the floor. Ilyasova, Snell and Henson are both former starters for the Bucks, and their production experience in those roles has been huge for Milwaukee’s bench success. Obviously the starting lineup is deadly, and is one of the best in the NBA, but their depth makes the starters even better because they can prevent Giannis and Khris from playing 40 minutes per game.

Edge: Bucks

Play Style

From a playing style standpoint, The Bucks play at a much higher pace, score more, rebound more and share the ball better while having the 76ers beat in every major offensive and defensive category. The Bucks scores more in the paint, splash more from behind the arc, and surrender about six less points per game than the 76ers do.

This trade could make the matchup between the Bucks and 76ers worse for Philadelphia than it already was. They will be forced to either trade twos for threes — which never works unless the team shooting the threes is having a very bad night — or they’ll try to keep the Bucks from shooting a lot of threes, but when the Warriors did that, the Bucks destroyed them in the paint.

Edge: Bucks

Obviously Embiid can protect the paint better than the non-existent centers on the Warriors, but we all know Giannis can score on anybody. Milwaukee’s high powered, high pace offense will likely be too much to handle for a team with not-so-great defense and not much of an ability to make three-pointers.

Scoring Ability

Adding Jimmy Butler doesn’t automatically make them a lot better, especially since they had to lose two of their three deep shooters to get him. He is great at scoring in the mid-range, which is exactly the shot the Bucks want opponents to take. They won’t be able to beat anybody with a lot of threes, and they certainly won’t be able to beat the Bucks with mid-range shots and trying to score down low while the Bucks fire away 40+ threes per game and have Giannis filling the bucket in the paint.

The 76ers have four guys who can score a lot on any given night; two of which can really only score close to the basket. (Embiid can hit an occasional three). The Bucks, however, have way more scoring options. They have four players who have scored 20+ PPG in at least one of the last three seasons in Bledsoe, Khris, Giannis and Lopez. Plus they also have Brogdon, Ilyasova, DiVincenzo and Connaughton, who possess the ability to score a lot in a short amount of time.

Edge: Bucks

Next Matchup

The next time these two teams face each other won’t be until March 17th on ABC, so we will have to wait a while to see this matchup. There will be plenty of stars in the game on both sides, but overall, these teams are not even. While they will win a good amount of games because of the talented starting lineup, Philadelphia’s lack of depth and three-point shooting will catch up to them this season.

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About Nick Niles

I'm Nick Niles! I was born in Green Bay Wisconsin, raised in Appleton Wisconsin, and now I'm back in Green Bay at UW-GB studying Political Science and Public Administration. I have been a huge Bucks fan for as long as I have been alive, and I'm also passionate about writing. Twitter: @Bucks_Deluxe | @Nilesmania

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