Joel Embiid Expresses Frustration with Recent Usage: 'I Haven't Been Myself'

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorDecember 8, 2018

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 05: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles as Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the Toronto Raptors plays defense in the fourth quarter at Scotiabank Arena on December 5, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has averaged just 13.7 points per game on 33.3 percent shooting in his last three outings and was given a day of rest against the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

Per Keith Pompey of Philly.com, Embiid has been frustrated with the way he's been used of late.

"I haven't been myself lately. 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 [29.0] percent from three-point range.

"But it seems like the past couple games, like with the way I play, our setup, [head coach Brett 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 the 76ers' 117-111 win over the Pistons on Friday, Embiid clarified his comments, noting he wasn't upset about the team's recent acquisition of All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler:

While Embiid hasn't looked like his old self recently, some context is necessary for that aforementioned three-game performance.

First, the ex-Kansas star faced the Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies, who are ranked seventh and fourth in defensive efficiency, respectively. The 21-6 Raps have the best record in the league, while the Grizzlies have allowed the second-fewest points per game in the NBA. Those aren't easy matchups.

Second, the 76ers didn't need Embiid much for a 123-98 win over the Washington Wizards, as the big man posted 16 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in just 22 minutes.

Third, Embiid's mini-slump may be just that, as he thrived in his previous seven games thanks to 28.9 points on 47.9 percent shooting, 13.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Philadelphia went 6-1 in that stretch and is 9-2 in its last 11.

Looking at the bigger picture, Embiid was scoring 28.0 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting before his previous three games. That field-goal rate is a bit lower than his mark of 48.3 percent last year, but it's higher than his rookie-campaign mark of 46.6 percent.

Overall, the 76ers have been excellent after trading for Butler, and Embiid has been great for the most part. While he's upset with how he's been used of late, it's unlikely that he'll continue this slide. Philadelphia (and Embiid) should be just fine.

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