Joel Embiid and the 76ers have had a tough start to the season. Without fellow All-Star Ben Simmons, who is currently out for mental health reasons, the 76ers have struggled to replicate the kind of form that made them the first seed in the Eastern Conference Last Season.
The 76ers are currently 6-2 for the season, which is not bad given that they sit on top of their conference. But clearly, the absence of Simmons has had an impact on the team's performance. While Simmons was not a great shooter, he was crucial in facilitating for his teammates.
One player who has struggled offensively is Joel Embiid. A cursory glance at his numbers would show that he is performing well below the bar he has set for himself over the last few seasons. Embiid is currently averaging 20.2 points per game, the lowest of his career since his rookie year.
On top of that, his efficiency from the field has seen a major decline. He is currently only making 41.6% of his shots, the lowest of his career. Coming off a career-best season where he shot 51%, no one could have predicted this slump for Embiid.
But Embiid thinks the reasons for his struggle have to do with the NBA's new balls. The NBA ended their historic partnership with Spalding, and now have Wilson as the official provider of their basketball.
Embiid thinks that the new ball has had a role in his slump, as he was one of the best mid-range scorers last season. But he did mention that he expects to find his range soon enough. To end, he saw Seth Curry walk in, and joke that Curry is not struggling with the new Wilson basketball.
“I'm always looking for excuses but the ball is different. Still don't feel comfortable with it... Last year, I was the best midrange shooter in the league. So (at) some point it's gonna come back.”
(Reacting to Seth Curry): "Obviously, he's not struggling with it."
Embiid is not the only player to suggest the new NBA balls have impacted their game. Paul George recently came out and said that in his opinion, the new ball is the reason behind the league-wide shooting slump.
New ball or old, Embiid needs to find his rhythm for the sake of the 76ers. With Simmons having no timetable for his return, Embiid has to be the leader for the 76ers and make sure they stay in contention for the title till Simmons returns, or a new star comes in his place.