He’s 7-feet tall. He has shown flashes of elite athleticism. He has the length to succeed in the NBA. He’s thought of one of the “can’t miss” prospects of this year’s Draft.
And if he’s available for the Lakers to draft, he should be passed up.
Joel Embiid shot up draft boards this season after wowing scouts with all the attributes listed above. Despite suffering multiple injuries and averaging just 20 minutes a game, Embiid was considered one of the top prospects in the draft and figured as some to be the consensus top pick. That is until this week, when news of an injury to his foot halted his draft stock. The final blow was delivered by Adrian Wojnarowski today, when he reported Embiid’s recovery timeline is expected to be between 4-6 months.
It’s just the latest in a long list of injuries for Embiid, who missed both the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments this year with a back injury that had scouts previously uneasy. The resounding opinion, though, is that his potential impact is worth his injury concerns.
Don’t count me among those. The injuries already concerned me enough regarding Embiid. Back injuries are scary, let alone on men with big frames like the Cameroonian’s out of Kansas. Add in a foot injury that is very similar to the one that ended Yao Ming‘s career and you have a prospect the Lakers shouldn’t touch. These are lingering injuries that won’t heal instantly and will certainly have lasting effects on Embiid.
According to Woj, a very reliable source, the optimistic timeline of Embiid’s return would be October, barely in time for the season. At worst, he’s back in December, 1/4 of the way through the season and still with rookie struggles to face.
In another draft, where the talent drop-off between Embiid and anyone else might be bigger, the risk might be worth the reward. However, with players like Julius Randle and Marcus Smart likely to be available at the 7th pick, it’s not worth the risk of taking Embiid. Instead, take a player like Randle or Smart, who may not have as much potential, but will certainly offer more instantly to the Lakers talent-wise.
Passing on Embiid might not be easy and might not be popular with the fans, but it’s the right call for both the short term and long-term.