On paper, the Philadelphia 76ers have enough talent to contend with just about anybody in the NBA not named the Golden State Warriors. Their dynamic young duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons was plenty dangerous and now with Jimmy Butler in the mix, they finally have an established star.
However, as is common for a deal involving a borderline top-10 talent such as Butler, the post-trade growing pains remain present in Philadelphia. In fact, Embiid has felt uneasy with his role in recent games since Butler’s arrival, stating that he believes he’s being used incorrectly in their offense. Following from Philly Inquirer’s Keith Pompey.
“I haven’t been myself lately,” said Embiid, who was held out of Friday’s game against the Pistons by coach Brett Brown. “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.”
It’s certainly fair for Joel Embiid to feel slightly confused about his current role. Embiid was playing at a top-tier level earlier this season, posting monstrous stat lines on a nightly basis. While he still continues to contribute and the Sixers have gone 9-3 since acquiring Jimmy Butler, Embiid has been forced to operate more off the ball, something he may not be accustomed to.
The Sixers ran a large amount of their offense through Embiid in the post early on, a recipe that proved to work. Now the bruising 7-footer is just an option as compared to the primary focal point he was early on.
Jimmy Butler is a ball-dominant scorer that thrives off breaking defenders down over the course of a game in isolation situations. Embiid typically also works best when he can make decisions from down in the post as opposed to spotted up on the perimeter as he has been for much of their recent games. And that’s not to mention point forward Ben Simmons who is also an ace with the ball in his hands and operates as the de facto point guard.
With a variety of different personalities and play styles still hoping to mesh cleanly, there is certainly some risk here for Philly, though it hasn’t reflected in the win-loss column thus far.