DETROIT — Joel Embiid joked that he’s always looking for an excuse.
But it’s obvious something is amiss with the Sixers center’s shooting. It’s also a fact that NBA players are struggling to adapt to the new Wilson basketball after decades of playing with Spalding.
“The ball is different. I’m still not totally [feeling] comfortable with it,” Embiid said of his recent shooting struggles. “It’s a process. But every single day, I work hard. I make those shots at practice.”
The four-time All-Star is shooting a career-low 41.2% through this season, including only making 32.1% of his three-point attempts.
“Last year, I was probably the best midrange [jump shooter] in the league,” Embiid said. “So at some point, it’s going to come back. I’m not worried about it.”
He’s shooting 36.4% from 3 to 10 feet away from the basket, 40.5% from 10 to 16 feet, and 37.5% from 16 to the three-point line. For reference, last season Embiid shot 46.6% from 3 to 10, 46.3% from 10 to 16, and 49.3% from 16 to the three-point line.
The NBA ended its relationship with Spalding before the start of this season, and shooting has declined across the league.
“Not to make an excuse or anything, but I said that about the ball, it’s just a different basketball,” Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George told the media Monday night. “It doesn’t have the same touch or softness that the Spalding ball had. You’ll see this year, it’s going to be a lot of bad misses. I think you’ve seen a lot of airballs so far this season.
“So again, not to put an excuse or blame the basketball, but it is different. It’s no secret, it’s a different basketball.”
Furk the fourth-quarter scorer
Furkan Korkmaz (wrist) was a later scratch against the Detroit Pistons.
But Korkmaz is doing his real work in the fourth quarter. He has scored the league’s third-most fourth-quarter points this season with 51. Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan leads the league with 62 points, while Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet is second at 54.
Korkmaz ranked 11th in fourth-quarter scoring average at 6.4. Indiana Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon, who’s only played in five games, leads the league with 8.4 points. Korkmaz and DeRozan, who sits at second with 7.8 points, are the only players in the Top 11 who have played in at least eight games as of Wednesday.
The Sixers have gotten off to a historic start from the three-point line this season. They have hit double-digit three-pointers in nine straight games to begin the season. Before this year, the Sixers’ record was two straight games, which came at the start of the 2017-18 season.