Joel Embiid had been the prohibitive favorite to be the first-overall pick in this year’s draft, but his foot injury and subsequent need for surgery has placed his likelihood of being a top-3 pick in serious doubt, as executives worry that he could be the next in a long line of talented big men to have their careers cut short by injury, Here’s the latest on Embiid…
- Initial concerns about Embiid centered on a stress fracture in his back — an injury that caused him to miss the final several weeks of the college season, including the NCAA tournament, but the foot injury is an even worse concern now, writes Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. A Western Conference executive said, “The back thing wouldn’t have bothered me as much, to be quite honest. But big men and bad feet are a bad combination. And big men with two injury concerns (back and foot) are a worse combination. No way (the Cavs) take him. It costs people money and jobs.“
- In the same article, a Western Conference coach had a different opinion, telling Amico, “Embiid is a top-three overall talent. He’s the best big in the draft. I wouldn’t rule him out.”
- Another executive weighed in on the talents of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, telling Amico, “How do you draft Embiid and his bad foot when you have two guys like (Parker and Wiggins) sitting there? If you take an injury-prone big man to pass on a healthy and talented wing … you could really set the franchise back. The Cavs want to start winning. Draft the healthy guy.” That same executive then said he wouldn’t risk taking Embiid prior to the sixth pick.
- J.A. Adande of ESPN.com thinks that Embiid fits what the Lakers need. Adande opines that with Kobe Bryant under contract for two more seasons, the team doesn’t need to think long-term right now. Rather, they need to maximize what’s left of Kobe’s career, which makes the possibility of Embiid having his career cut short by injury not as big a risk as it would be for many of the other teams drafting in the top-10.
- Embiid might fall to the Celtics who own the sixth pick, and GM Danny Ainge has a history of taking players with injuries in their backgrounds, writes Mike Petraglia of WEEI 93.7 FM. The article cites Ainge’s selections of Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley as examples.