Sixers' Joel Embiid: Recent usage as stretch-5 'really frustrates me'

Friday night's victory against the Detroit Pistons pushed the Philadelphia 76ers' record to 18-9, good for second place in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

But not every Sixers player is pleased with his role.

Joel Embiid, who missed his first game of the season Friday due to rest, told reporters that he feels like his offense has taken a hit since the team acquired All-Star Jimmy Butler in the blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves last month.

"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."

Embiid, 24, is averaging 34.3 minutes per game, 4 more than in 2017-18. But he said rest isn't what he needs.

"My body feels great, and it's just I haven't been playing well," he said.

The numbers say as much. Since the Butler trade in November, many of Embiid's offensive stats -- including points per game (28.2 to 23.8), field goal percentage (48.4 to 43.1) and 3-point percentage (30.2 to 27.3) -- have taken slight hits. He's going to the free throw line less, and in his past three games, he has made just 14 of 42 shots from the field, including 1 of 9 from 3-point range.

Embiid said he'd rather spend more time near the rim, but that's difficult with Butler, who also likes to attack the basket.

"We sometimes have to space the floor," Embiid told Philly.com. "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."

For his part, Brown didn't necessarily agree the addition of Butler is the problem.

"I don't want to connect those dots," the coach said. "But I think in general we all have to do better at creating space for Joel."

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