A few months ago, Joel Embiid was the growing consensus to the number one pick in June’s NBA Draft. He was dominating inside post play as a freshman at Kansas, but suffered a stress fracture in his back. Kansas was eliminated in the NCAA Tournament before he had a chance to return from the injury, so most fans, minus the Kansas fans, did not get a chance to see much of him.
He’s since recovered, and is quickly gaining momentum to re-claim that top pick status. Embiid reportedly was a monster at the NBA Draft Combine. He posted measurables of standing 7' 1" in shoes, having a 7' 5.75" wingspan, and a 9' 5.5" standing reach.
The appeal to Embiid is obvious; he has a ceiling through the roof. He has the potential to be one of the most dominant forces in the game just because of his body, size, reach and presence. Furthermore, Embiid is an incredible athlete, having played both soccer and volleyball. Each has clearly helped him become the great basketball player he is thus far, and will likely continue to help him in areas such as footwork and going up to grab balls of the boards. For a seven-footer, his body control is exceptional.
Though he does not have great form, Embiid is still a good scorer and has a good mid-range game for a man of his height, shooting 63% from the field all together. He wasn’t bad on the free throw line, but still has room to grow, shooting a shade under 70%. He could work on his post game, but is pretty good at dropping in hook shots.
Coming off a stress fracture in his back, that of course is the primary concern with Embiid. Anytime a big man has a back injury, especially as a 20-year old, you have to worry about long-term durability. Furthermore, if there is a weakness in Embiid, it is he is a bit slow moving around and leaping. He takes a while to launch upwards, but this may be fixable.
Pro Comparison: DeMarcus Cousins
The Verdict: Being that the Sixers have a big man they believe in, Nerlens Noel, Embiid is not as much of an attractive pick for me as others. If he fell to three, I’d take him but would not be devastated if he was taken ahead of them. Furthermore, the injury makes him more of a risk than others. The Sixers must get this pick right for the sake of the franchise getting off the ground, and there are far more safer picks than Embiid for this slot. I’d hope the Cavilers or Bucks take him.