As the 2014 NBA draft inches near, there is still plenty of speculation on what the Philadelphia 76ers will do with the third overall pick. Now if we filter through all the smokescreens and allow Sam Hinkie to draft in the order that he’s supposed to, then we can really assess what the 76ers will do. At the very least it narrows down the options. In a draft that is said to have a surplus of talent, it should still be treated as if every possible pick could impact the future of your franchise. That means tempering expectations, and picking based on everything that you know at this point in time. In the case of the 76ers, that also means avoiding the temptation of Joel Embiid.
Embiid is a young player that may very well be the next dominant big man in the NBA someday. Unfortunately the red flags that surrounded his injured back these past couple of months has only increased with his latest injury. After undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot last week, Embiid is expected to be out of action for the next four to six months. Yes while it is the off-season, for a ream in the middle of a rebuild the last thing the Sixers need is another big man recovering from an injury. In the case of Nerlens Noel it’s expected that he has fully recovered after sitting out for an entire year. Embiid however is dealing with his second injury, and with this one coming during an off-season period, all teams should take heed.
Now considering the advances in sports medicine, Embiid may very well recover and be just as dominant as many believe him to be. The issue here is that there is no guarantee of that, and he’s still a rookie. His developmental process has yet to begin at the pro level, and there is also the fact that he hasn’t been playing basketball that long. His athleticism and skillset were some of the things that stood out about him, but as a player with limited playing history in his background, baby steps were always going to be taken. The Sixers have enough players that they need to monitor and develop that don’t include an unproven Center that isn’t at full health. With Noel set to debut in the upcoming Summer League, all eyes will be on his status and conditioning.
With Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum raising their stock with the Embiid injury, Hinkie would be doing the organization a disservice by considering Embiid. The stash him and wait scenario is possible, but unnecessary. Not when you have two picks in the top 10.
If Embiid does make it pas the 76ers, then a realistic option would be for the 76ers to use the 10th pick on him. There is no need for teams like Boston and Los Angeles to draft him since their looking for players that can help them win from day one. Sacramento has glaring needs in their back-court, and with Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, and Marcus Smart on the board, Embiid shouldn’t even be considered in the top five. With the 10th pick the Sixers are able to take a chance, but if not Denver and Orlando could also use him.
I don’t see Embiid slipping past Orlando. The Magic made good with Nikola Vucevic, but they are in a rebuilding phase themselves and could be stockpiling assets. The Denver Nuggets were without Javale McGee almost all of last year, and Embiid would provide depth.
It will be very interesting to see just how far Joel Embiid slips down the boar. Other factors may come into play where teams trade up to draft him, but I can’t find a logical scenario where he doesn’t get drafted between the 10th-12th picks.