Joel Embiid: ‘I haven’t been myself lately’ in new role since Jimmy Butler trade

Philadelphia center <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/5294/" data-ylk="slk:Joel Embiid">Joel Embiid</a> is frustrated with his play recently and hasn’t “been myself” since the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4912/" data-ylk="slk:Jimmy Butler">Jimmy Butler</a> trade. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Philadelphia center Joel Embiid is frustrated with his play recently and hasn’t “been myself” since the Jimmy Butler trade. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid was held out of their game against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night so that he could rest.

Yet he said he isn’t tired, and is feeling fine.

He is, though, frustrated. He doesn’t think he’s being used right since the 76ers acquired Jimmy Butler last month.

“I haven’t been myself lately,” Embiid told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday. “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 (is why) I’m only shooting (29) percent (from the 3-point line).

“But it seems like the past couple games, like with the way I play, our setup, (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.”

After looking at how Embiid played on Wednesday, it makes sense that coach Brett Brown would give him a break to reset. Embiid shot just 5-of-17 in the 76ers 113-102 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, and has shot a combined 14-of-42 in their past three games. Those numbers fall well below his season average of 26.3 points per game, in which he’s shot 46.2 percent from the field.

The issue for Embiid now with Butler on the roster is that he’s having to play on the perimeter more, and said it’s been “an adjustment” having to spend more time out there than he’s used to. Having to play with Butler, who loves to attack the rim, has been a challenge for Embiid offensively, too. Embiid has had to make sure to create space for Butler down low when he drives to the rim, something he’s clearly not quite used to yet.

Brown, though, doesn’t think that it’s Butler’s fault. He wants his team to spread the floor better as a whole anyways, and said he thinks having Butler and Embiid working together can improve that in the long run.

They just have to figure out how to get on the same page.

“I don’t want to connect those dots,” Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But I think in general we all have to do better at creating space for Joel.

I do not see the connection of Jimmy having much to do with spacing. In fact, I think it completely enhances the possibility to have better spacing.”

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