How Far Will Joel Embiid Fall?
Kansas big man Joel Embiid was a shoo-in for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ #1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. In all experts’ mock drafts, he was a sure Top 3 pick along with Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. But last Friday, Embiid underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot. With this development, Embiid is expected to slip down in the draft. But for far will he go down?
Let’s check out the teams who own the first seven picks:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
Joel Embiid was going to be their number one pick, even after the back injury that sidelined him in the NCAA tournament. But with another injury, that changes the entire picture. The Cavs are so high on this pick. They plan to use it as one of their negotiating tools in order to land one of the top 2014 free agents. Without a solid number one pick, Cleveland won’t be an attractive free agent destination, even at the maximum salary. The Cavs need immediate help, and Embiid can no longer give that. So Cleveland passes on him and picks Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Larry Sanders was re-signed for four years at $11M per annum. Overpaying Sanders was a big mistake for the Bucks. For that reason, the Bucks do not want to add another mistake by taking in an injured prospect who plays the same position as Sanders. Let’s face it. Embiid is tons better than Sanders, but he’s injured. The Bucks were the bottom-dwellers of the NBA last season, they cannot wait for Embiid to heal. The Bucks need an immediate star quality player, and again that’s not Embiid.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
Andrew Wiggins was one their radar all-season long. Latest rumor has it that they are willing to trade up to get the number one pick. The Sixers are reportedly willing to give up #3 and Thad Young to get the sure crack at Wiggins. For this rumor alone, the Sixers don’t have an interest in Embiid at all. Secondly, the 76ers have waited one year for Nerlens Noel to play after his ACL surgery. They cannot afford to go through all of this again with Embiid, not after losing a record 26 straight games last season. And yes, Noel is also a center like Embiid. Embiid’s not going here too.
4. Orlando Magic
The Magic have set their sights on Dante Exum and Noah Vonleh before the Embiid foot injury. With this latest development, the Magic are one team that might take the gamble. Number one reason is that the Magic also own the 12th pick, meaning they can still pick up another quality rookie in a draft class this deep. Second, the Magic will be parading back Nikola Vucevic whose season was cut short by injury. He was having the best season of his career when he got hurt. With Vucevic back, the Magic can buy time for Embiid to heal. So there’s a probability that Embiid could go here.
5. Utah Jazz
The Jazz have two up and coming big men in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. These men had the best season of their careers in the 2013-14 NBA wars. The Jazz don’t really need a center right now, and before the injury, they were going to select whoever was left of Exum and Vonleh after Orlando’s pick. Exum is a combo guard who can take the playmaking chores off Gordon Hayward should he return. Vonleh will be the perfect complement to Favors and Kanter. Again, Embiid doesn’t really fit here either.
6. Boston Celtics
In 2010, the Celtics gambled on Avery Bradley with the 19th pick although he had a college injury. In 2012, they selected Jared Sullinger with the 21st pick despite being red-flagged by the scouts due to injury. Both have turned out to be steals, in fact someone might steal Bradley in the free agency market this July. Danny Ainge is a risk taker, and he’s made two calculated risks in the last four years that have paid off for the C’s. Two years after Bradley came Sullinger, now two years after Sullinger comes Embiid? This one has a good chance of happening, considering the risk history of the Celtics and their tolerance for a slow rebuilding. Ainge promised fireworks in the offseason, this might be the one.
7. LA Lakers
With his window slowly closing, Kobe Bryant had stated that he wants to win-and he wants to win now. The Lakers have the money to spend on a top free agent and they may likely re-sign Pau Gasol to a short term deal. Along with Steve Nash, this team is a playoff contender. And if they use the 7th pick wisely, they have the chance to go the elite level. Kobe wants to win now, Embiid cannot play now. Simple as that, the Lakers (or is it Kobe?) cannot afford to wait. So Embiid’s not going to Tinseltown.
Embiid will not be a Top 3 pick anymore. The Magic at #4 may take a gamble. The Celtics at #6 are more likely to take the gamble. The Kings and Pelicans pick after the Lakers. It may be hard to imagine losing teams like them are willing to wait too. The Sixers pick 10th and will definitely pick him if he slides this low although this one may be less likely. The lowest Embiid could go would be #12 because Orlando picks again. Embiid’s fate will be known next week when the NBA holds its annual draft on June 26.
Let’s hope those two screws inserted in his foot won’t screw up his future.
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