Despite just about all mocks beginning to suggest that the Sixers could take a risk by selecting Joel Embiid with the third pick, ESPN’s Chad Ford downplayed the Sixers’ actual interest in the Cameroonian big-man.
In what his set to be his final mock-he has left the door open to update it throughout the day-Ford has the Sixers taking Dante Exum if they stay at the third spot, but suggests that they could be putting out smokescreens on their interest in Embiid, in an effort to entice the Cavaliers to trade down.
There have been rumblings that the Sixers are seriously considering drafting Joel Embiid there. However, from what I can gather, this is likely a smoke screen to entice the Cavs to deal with them. Everyone believes that if the Cavs move down in the draft, it will be to land Embiid. While the Sixers like him, I think they’re reluctant to commit to that timetable.
That timetable would be at least four to six months by all accounts, and many have wondered if the Sixers wouldn’t sit him out for a full season like they did with Nerlens Noel a year ago. I think the difference is that while the Sixers plan on being a lottery team again next year, they do want to see some on-court progression this season, and Embiid’s health appears to be much more of a long-term risk than Noel’s did a year ago, or does now.
If the Sixers can convince teams that if they stay at three that they will take Embiid, it forces other teams, mainly the Cavaliers, to wonder if Embiid isn’t worth that risk at three. If the Cavs can talk themselves into moving down to take their original target, the Sixers could move up and select Andrew Wiggins. Would I do that if I was the Cavs? Not a chance, but I wouldn’t have taken Anthony Bennett, either.
[If you have Insider, you can read Ford's full mock here]