Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler relationship builds after early 'struggles' while

When Jimmy Butler arrived in Philadelphia, 76ers coach said it would take Aussie superstar Ben Simmons some time to get used to his new role with the club.

After almost a month, Simmons and Butler are getting along fine but the third leg of the big three has admitted his new role “really frustrates me”.

Joel Embiid has been touted as a potential MVP candidate but after sitting out the 76ers 117-111 win over the Detroit Pistons, he said he’s not enjoying life as much in the Jimmy Butler era.

“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-five, which I’m only shooting 29 per cent” from three-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.

“My body feels great, and it’s just I haven’t been playing well.”

It’s been an adjustment for Embiid having Butler on the team with his stats taking a bit of a hit.

He’s dropped from 28.2 points per game to 23.8, his field goal percentage has dropped from 48.4 to 43.1 and he’s only made 14 of his last 42 shots including just one from nine from beyond the arc.

“We sometimes have to space the floor,” Embiid said. “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.”

Coach Brown said the Sixers needed to work on giving Embiid more space but said it wasn’t necessarily to do with Butler joining Philadelphia.

“I don’t want to connect those dots,” Brown said. “But I think in general we all have to do better at creating space for Joel.

“I do not see the connection of Jimmy having much to do with spacing. In fact, I think it completely enhances the possibility to have better spacing.”

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid hasn’t quite been himself recently.

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid hasn’t quite been himself recently.Source:AP

As for the other two legs of the big three, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler went to the next level in their relationship.

The pair stood up with Butler hitting 38 points with six rebounds and six assists, while Simmons claimed a double-double with 18 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in the 117-111 win over the Pistons.

It’s the latest indication that life is good in Philadelphia as the side move to 18-9 for the season.

Butler started the season with the Minnesota Timberwolves but the blockbuster trade in early November brought a sense Philadelphia could be pushing for the championship with its big three — but also concern egos could clash.

Simmons was the player most likely to get rubbed the wrong way with both players at their best with the ball in their hands.

Butler’s messy relationship breakdowns at the Wolves and Bulls has marked him as a difficult troublemaker but the pair have become thick as thieves in their roles with the 76ers.

The pair have even been wearing matching headbands in games to solidify their relationship — although Simmons was solo on the headband front against the Pistons in Philadelphia.

Both players wore headbands in the Sixers’ win over Washington last week and coach Brett Brown said the headwear signified a “bonding of defensive brothers”.

Simmons and Butler are a brotherhood of two inside the 76ers big three.

Simmons and Butler are a brotherhood of two inside the 76ers big three.Source:Getty Images

Brown said he asked Butler to take Simmons under his wing and the two are getting along fine after some early teething issues on the court when Butler was traded to Philly from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 76ers have a decent record to sit third in the Eastern Conference at the moment but are now 5-8 on the road.

Simmons said while Butler’s arrival may have had something to do with the early problems, the team is starting to gel.

“Early on, we had a lot of struggles with the trades and things like that going on,” Simmons said.

“I think we’re a lot more comfortable now with Jimmy (Butler) here and settling in with that but we’re getting better.

“For me personally, I think he (Butler) has been huge for my development. I think he’s making me get better. He’s a great teammate and a positive influence in the locker room and on the floor so I love having him here.

“On the floor everybody’s getting a lot better and working a lot harder.”

Simmons got out to a flying start, scoring eight points in the first quarter, including six of Philly’s first 10 points, and leading the way for the 76ers.

But at halftime, Simmons simmered down, adding just two points as the 76ers fell 68-56 down at the break.

The lead pushed out to 15 midway through the third period but the 76ers like to come from behind and hit back to bring the deficit back to one point at the final break.

A dominant final quarter gave the 76ers the stunning victory.

Butler has been in fine form since joining the 76ers with two incredible buzzer beating three pointers to snatch victories last month.

Jimmy Butler has been clutch for Philadelphia.

Jimmy Butler has been clutch for Philadelphia.Source:AP

“So far it’s been pretty easy,” Simmons told news.com.au about the Sixers’ new life with Butler. “I figure it’s just been everyone finding their spot and where they can be most effective on the court at times.

“First two games (with Butler), everyone struggled to figure it out. Then the next five or six games I think I was averaging 19 (points), eight (rebounds) and nine (assists a game).

“So, I mean, there’s nothing (critics can) really say about that.”

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