Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid struggling to get on board with new role

Joel Embiid has seen a decrease in production ever since the Sixers traded for Jimmy Butler, and he’s attributing it to the way the team has been using him.

The Philadelphia 76ers are fortunate enough to have one of the best pure centers in the NBA in 24-year-old Joel Embiid. At 7 feet and 250 pounds, Embiid is the picture-perfect big man you want on a championship team in this league.

The only problem is, following Philadelphia’s acquisition of Jimmy Butler, Embiid is no longer being used as a pure center. Since Butler is the type of player who likes to score by attacking the basket, Embiid is being required to spend less time near the rim and more time on the outside.

Because of it, his numbers are down, and he doesn’t like it.

“I haven’t been myself lately,” Embiid told Philly.com. “I think it’s mainly because of the way I’ve been used, which is I’m being used as a spacer, I guess, a stretch five, which I’m only shooting [29] percent” from 3-point range.

“But it seems like the past couple games, like with the way I play, our setup, [Coach Brett Brown] always has me starting on the perimeter … and it just really frustrates me. My body feels great, and it’s just I haven’t been playing well.”

Nobody likes to see their numbers take a hit, so Embiid’s frustration is understandable. Since the Sixers acquired Butler in November, Embiid’s points per game have dropped from 28.2 to 23.8. Additionally, he has seen a significant drop in both field goal and 3-point percentage as well.

But unfortunately, that is something that comes with your team acquiring a star player; the offense typically runs through the best pure scorer on the team, and everybody else on the court is forced to serve basically in a supporting role.

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On the plus side, Philadelphia has won nine of 12 games since Butler joined the starting lineup. If the winning continues, it should make it easier for Embiid to grow more accustomed to playing the stretch five role.

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