Embiid's injury shakes up NBA draft
Just when everyone seemed confident Cleveland would select Kansas center Joel Embiid with the No. 1 pick of the June 26 NBA Draft, injury news arrived.
According to multiple reports, Embiid will need surgery to repair a stress fracture to the navilcular bone in his right foot. What this means for his professional career is anyone's guess, which is why it seems unlikely now Embiid will go No. 1.
Bill Walton, Yao Ming, Brook Lopez and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are some of the big men who were plagued by foot problems. The Cavaliers endured Ilgauskas playing just 29 games over three seasons early in his career, then he managed to stay healthy.
If Embiid doesn't go No. 1, how far will he fall? That's a tough question and depends on an individual team's taste for risk. Embiid, who grew up in Cameroon and has played just three years of basketball in the U.S., is certainly an intriguing prospect, although big men have dropped in importance in today's NBA.
Cleveland could just opt for one of the talented forwards, Duke's Jabari Parker or Kansas' Andrew Wiggins. There are rumors Utah is offering Derrick Favors to move from No. 5 to No. 1 and that might be an intriguing option. The Cavs could probably take Embiid at No. 5 if they're willing.
Philadelphia is said to be offering Thaddeus Young and the No. 3 pick for No. 1, but that doesn't seem appealing now that the Big Three at the top of the draft has dwindled to two.
If Utah acquired the No. 1 pick, it would almost certainly take Parker, the Chicago native whose family practices the Mormon faith. Cleveland might be a toss up right now between Wiggins and Parker.
At No. 2, Milwaukee is a virtual lock to take whoever's left between those two. Philadelphia, picking third, would probably choose between Australian guard Dante Exum, creating an interesting backcourt with rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams, or extremely long Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh.
Orlando picks fourth and seemed a lock to pick Exum. If he's gone, the Magic might consider Vonleh, Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart or maybe a wild card.
Utah picks fifth, Boston sixth, the Lakers seventh, Sacramento eight, the Charlotte Hornets ninth and Philadelphia 10th. The next group of draftees could include Arizona forward Aaron Gordon, Creighton forward Doug McDermott, Kentucky forward Julius Randle and Michigan guard Nik Stauskas.
The Bulls' picks are No. 16 and 19. They'd be willing to trade up or trade out of the draft to create more cap space. Is there a chance Embiid could be there at 16? Probably not.