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Best Potential 2014 NBA Draft Landing Spots for Kansas Star Joel Embiid

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJanuary 14, 2014

Best Potential 2014 NBA Draft Landing Spots for Kansas Star Joel Embiid

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    Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

    Joel Embiid has quickly established himself as one of the potential treasures in the 2014 NBA draft field. He's been on a tear as of late and even recently started generating No. 1 overall whispers. 

    His latest dominant performance came against Iowa State, where he opened eyes and turned heads with some standout play at both ends of the floor.

    “I think Embiid is the best player in the country,” said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, per Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star. “Did you see him play tonight? He’s huge, great length, can shoot, has incredible footwork and has been playing the game for about two years.”

    Only a few teams will be bad enough to be in play for Embiid at the top of the draft. These are those teams, specifically the ones that could really use the services he brings to the table long term.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    If the NBA lottery was held today, the Milwaukee Bucks would be locked in for a top-three overall pick. And with that pick, they'll likely have to make a major strategical decision with regard to how they'll attack it—either the best-player-available approach or biggest positional need. 

    I'm not sure how closely you've been watching Embiid lately, but as of January 2014, he certainly looks like the best player available. 

    He's dominating at both ends of the floor, and unlike Larry Sanders, Embiid has a terrific offensive post game. You can probably count on one hand how many teams have dominant post-scoring centers. Embiid has the chance to offer Milwaukee a unique dimension of offense that nobody has and everyone wants.  

    Besides, Sanders has been nothing but trouble since signing his extension. The Bucks might be better off dealing him to fill a positional need elsewhere.

    And by drafting Embiid over Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, it would allow Giannis Antetokounmpo to develop as the team's small forward. 

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Robert Sacre. That's the only big man the Los Angeles Lakers are committed to next season. Joel Embiid could give them that showtime center they've been missing for the past near-decade.

    He really has the upside to emerge as a go-to scoring option, and though Kobe Bryant is locked up for another few years, the Lakers are going to need some type of interior scoring presence. 

    They could kill two birds with one stone by targeting Embiid, whose skill set and physical tools can give them a new offensive centerpiece and defensive anchor. 

    Los Angeles would likely have to continue losing for Embiid to realistically be within reach, but given the team's recent play, that might not be so far-fetched. 

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    If the Philadelphia 76ers have Joel Embiid ranked as the top prospect on their board, I can't imagine they'd pass because of the presence of Nerlens Noel. 

    For starters, we don't even know what Noel can do. He's been out for the past 11 months following ACL surgery, which he had a few years after fracturing the growth plate in his knee. 

    Noel also weighed in at 206 pounds at the NBA combine, with his max weight at Kentucky recorded at 228 pounds. There's a reason he slipped to No. 6 in what looks to be the worst draft since 2000. 

    Embiid is taller, longer and more than 20 pounds stronger with an offensive game lightyears ahead. And with Michael Carter-Williams posing as a dynamic playmaker and shot-creator, Embiid would have a fitting setup man to put him in position to succeed. 

    Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins might be better fits based on immediate team needs, but nobody can go wrong with Embiid, regardless of who's already on the roster.

Boston Celtics

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    Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    The Boston Celtics could use a center to pair with Rajon Rondo, as well as another block to build with at a position difficult to fill. Joel Embiid is on another level than any of the young big men Boston currently has, not only physically but fundamentally.

    Between Rondo's ability to create and the target Embiid presents as a finisher, we could be talking about one of those easy-bucket connections in the two-man game.

    There's also a common theme among the Celtics returning bigs—Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass all play strictly below the rim. Embiid plays above the box. 

    Given the retooling phase this team is going through, the Celtics could afford the time to develop Embiid, who if handled correctly, has the potential to evolve into the best long-term player from the 2014 class. 

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

    Think Andrew Bynum, only the Terminator version with a stronger passion for dominating. 

    Joel Embiid would be the perfect center for Cleveland, whose frontcourt looks nowhere as strong as we thought it might look prior to the season. 

    The Cavs don't have any big men to really go to. Cue Embiid, who's rapidly developing into a sensational offensive player in the post and a likely go-to option once he hits his NBA stride. 

    Cleveland right now ranks No. 27 in the NBA in offensive efficiency, and if there's one thing Embiid can provide, it's a high-percentage offensive target. He's been averaging over 13 points in 24 minutes on 72 percent shooting over his last seven games. 

    With the Cavs' top offensive guns both low-percentage options (Kyrie Irving, 42.9 percent shooting and Dion Waiters, 41.4 percent), they might want to target a skilled, above-the-rim 7-footer.

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