The news came down Sunday night and it seemingly happened in sequence like a domino effect, when Jimmy Butler chose the Miami Heat then the 76ers promptly signed Al Horford to fill the void.  The Sixers now enter the 2019-20 season with their fourth different starting lineup in the last 12 months.  The reality of Free Agency is that it gives the players the opportunity to choose where they get to play and live; the truth is that fans do not always fully understand why players make the decisions they do because the players have a different perspective and set of priorities than the fans of NBA teams.

The Sixers are moving forward without Jimmy Butler and received an underrated player in Josh Richardson in return as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Miami Heat.  Part of moving forward without Butler is the opportunity to bring in Al Horford.  This may surprise many people, but the Sixers are better off with Horford and Richardson while saying goodbye to Butler.  Here are some reasons why:

1. Less Tread On The Tires

At the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, Al Horford will be three years older than Jimmy Butler.  But Horford has played fewer minutes over the last seven seasons than Butler:

-Starting in 2012-13 (The first season Jimmy Butler played at least two-thirds on the games in an NBA season), Butler has averaged 35.1 Minutes Played Per Game.  By comparison, Al Horford over the same stretch of seven seasons, averaging 32.2 Minutes Played Per Game.

-Horford has only one season in the last seven years in which he averaged at least 35 Minutes Per Game (2012-13 season at age 26).  By comparison, Butler has five seasons in the last seven years in which he played at least 35 Minutes Per Game (including leading the NBA in MPG in 2014-15 with 38.7).

-With Butler averaging 2.9 more Minutes Per  Game than Horford over the last seven seasons, Butler averages 237.8 more minutes per NBA Regular season.  Based on Butler’s average Minutes Per Game since 2012-13, Jimmy has played a total of 6.77 more regular season games than Al Horford.

Horford’s age is less of a concern than the Minutes Played each season that Butler has accumulated.  Due to injuries, Butler has only played in 66.4 Games Per Year over the last five seasons, which is less than Horford who averages 73.2 Games Per Year since the 2014-15 season.  The combination of nagging injuries plus wear-and-tear makes Butler more of a long term risk than Horford is at this point in their careers.

2. More Bang For Your Dollars Spent

ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday that Jimmy Butler will be receiving a Four Year, 142 Million Dollar deal to play with the Miami Heat.  On Sunday Night, Woj dropped the bomb that Al Horford would be joining the 76ers on a Four Year, 109 Million Dollar contract.  Since both players have signed 4 year contracts, it makes the comparison of cost versus value more straight forward:

-Butler will be making an Average Annual Value of 35.5 Million per year, compared to Horford who will be making a AAV of 27.75 Million per year.  That means at maximum value, Butler’s AAV is 7.75 Million more per year than Horford.

-Since 2012-13, Al Horford has compiled 3.8 Assists Per Season while shooting 36.9 Percent from Three Point Range.  Both of those statistical averages are higher than Jimmy Butler over the same seven year stretch: Butler has 3.7 Assists Per Game and only shooting 34.2 Percent from Three Point Range.

-Although Butler does averaged 2.9 more Points Per Game (17.9 for Butler; 15.0 for Horford), both players average the same Turnovers Per Game (1.6).  Also, both players average almost the same number of shot attempts per game (Butler with 13.0; Horford with 12.3) but Horford has the better Field Goal Percentage at 51.9 Percent compared to Butler at 45.4 Percent.

-Horford has been selected to Five All-Star Games (Three in the last seven seasons) while Butler has been a part of Four All-Star Games.

-Butler has been selected to Two All-NBA Teams (2016-17, 2017-18) and four All-Defensive Teams (2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2017-18); Horford has only been selected to one All-NBA Team (2010-11) and one All-Defensive Team (2017-18).

-Horford has finish top ten in the NBA in Field Goal Percentage four times, top eleven in Rebounds Per Game three times, and top 20 in Blocks Per Game three times

-Butler has finish top five in Steals Per Game four times, top 15 in Points Per Game three times, and top 16 in Player Efficiency Rating Twice

Butler is making more money AAV and three years younger, but Horford is the better value for less money and he has more all-around value for the Sixers moving forward.

3. Neutralizing Joel Embiid’s Kryptonite

Al Horford has been a thorn in the 76ers side for the last three years with the Celtics, who finished 9-2 versus the Sixers during Horford’s time in Boston.  That 9-2 does not include the Five Games postseason series win by the Celtics over the Sixers during the 2018 NBA Postseason.

Joel Embiid has played eight regular season games versus the Celtics in his young NBA career and Horford’s defensive impact on Embiid is evident.  Joel has a worse Field Goal Percentage (44%) and Three Point Shooting Percentage (23.5%) versus the Celtics compared to his career averages of 48.1 Field Goal Percentage and 31.5 Three Point Shooting Percentage.  On the flip side, Horford has played well against the 76ers, averaging more Points Per Game (16.03) and better Three Point Shooting Percentage (42.6%) compared to his career averages (14.1 PPG; 36.8%).

The combination of removing Horford from the competition in the Eastern Conference along with the experience and wisdom he brings to the 76ers makes this addition very valuable for the Sixers chances at reaching the NBA Finals along with opening the door for more opportunities for Joel Embiid to develop into an even greater player.

The sting of Jimmy Butler “taking his talents to South Beach” will wear off when Sixers fans get to see Al Horford on the court with their team as they make a deep playoff run and another 50 plus win season.  While Butler gets to be “The Man” in Miami, Horford saves the Sixers more than Seven Million against the Salary Cap and will be a valuable part of the team’s success over the next few seasons.  Horford plus the addition of 25 Year Old Josh Richardson makes the 76ers better off without Butler short and long term.


NBC Sports Philadelphia Sixers Analyst and Seven Year NBA Veteran Marc Jackson joined The Sports Bash on Monday with his perspective on Al Horford, Jimmy Butler, and more on Sixers Offseason transactions

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