And you thought Boston Celtics players were struggling to adjust to their new roles.
The Philadelphia 76ers are 18-9, good for third place in the Eastern Conference, and look like legitimate NBA Finals contenders with Jimmy Butler now in the fold. But the transition to life with Butler hasn’t been all sunshine and roses — just ask Joel Embiid.
The star center has seen a dip in production since the Butler trade — points per game down from 28.2 to 23.8, field goal percentage 48.4 to 43.1 and 3-point percentage 30.2 to 27.3 — as he’s spent more time on the perimeter. And, well, let’s just say Embiid isn’t happy with the current direction of the offense.
“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-5, 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.”
Ultimately, Embiid believes he just needs more space to operate.
“My body feels great, and it’s just I haven’t been playing well,” he said.
” … We sometimes have to space the floor. A lot of time, actually, with the way our plays are set up, I tend to spend a lot of time on the perimeter. So it’s an adjustment.”
Embiid is at his best when given space and the opportunity to isolate defenders one-on-one. To use him as a stretch-big is to stifle one of the most dynamic and gifted big men the NBA has seen in quite some time.
The 2018-19 season still is young, however, so Sixers have plenty of time to iron out their kinks.
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Thumbnail photo via Nicole Sweet/USA TODAY Sports Images
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