Since the 2018 NBA offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers have been looking for a legitimate NBA superstar to pair with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. They tried to pursue LeBron James and Paul George in the free agency market, but both superstars ended up signing with other NBA teams. Luckily, earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Sixers succeeded to acquire Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The acquisition of Jimmy Butler strengthened the Sixers’ chance of fully dominating the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference this season. Butler isn’t only a very reliable option on the offensive end of the floor, but he can also be tasked to guard the opposing team’s best player. However, some of the Sixers’ players, specifically Joel Embiid, needed to make a huge adjustment in their game for Butler’s arrival.
After spending most of the game dominating under the basket, Sixers Head Coach Brett Brown decided to use Joel Embiid as a stretch-5. The strategy makes a lot of sense as it will make it easier for Jimmy Butler to penetrate the basket or kick out the ball when he’s trapped by the opposing team’s defense. However, Embiid doesn’t seem to be happy with his new role.
“I haven’t been myself lately,” Embiid said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“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  percent” from three-point range. 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.”
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) December 8, 2018
It is easy to understand why Joel Embiid is very upset. According to ESPN, the 24-year-old center has shown a huge decline in his offensive statistics since Jimmy Butler arrived in November. These include points per game (28.2 to 23.8), field-goal percentage (48.4 to 43.1), and three-point percentage (30.2 to 27.3). Embiid admitted that he wants to spend more time under the basket than waiting for the ball from beyond the arc.
However, Joel Embiid knows he needs to make a sacrifice in his game and do what is best for the team. As of now, it remains unknown if there will be changes on the Sixers’ strategy after Embiid expressed his frustration with his new role. Sixers Head Coach Brett Brown said that he doesn’t see any problem with Butler’s addition to the team and added that they should do better in creating space for Embiid.