Best Destinations: Boston Celtics (10.3 percent odds of first pick), Los Angeles Lakers (6.3 percent), Sacramento Kings (4.3 percent)
Many feel Joel Embiid is the best player available in the draft, and teams may be ready to take him regardless of positional need. ESPN.com's Chad Ford had this to say about the young big man:
Embiid is the top center prospect -- a force on both ends. He needs to develop his feel for the game and learn to stay out of foul trouble. But he has the building blocks, and most scouts believe he could be an Olajuwon type eventually.
Of course, since we're focusing on the best fits for Embiid, we have to take in account which teams can give him the most playing time and allocate other assets to make the roster around him better.
That rules out a few teams.
The first is the Milwaukee Bucks, who already have a shot-blocking center in Larry Sanders for $44 million, as well as Zaza Pachulia and John Henson on contract. While we haven't seen Nerlens Noel yet for the Philadelphia 76ers, it doesn't seem like the two would be an ideal frontcourt fit. Orlando already has one of the better offensive centers in the league in Nikola Vucevic. Utah has Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert, last year's first-round pick, in the middle.
Who does that leave? The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, two storied franchises in major markets, both in need of potential franchise centers.
Boston gets the nod here, if only because Rajon Rondo will get Embiid plenty of easy buckets while the perimeter defense on the other end (Rondo, Avery Bradley) will be sturdy enough to let Embiid do his thing defensively instead of playing whack-a-mole. Boston doesn't have a player who even closely resembles Embiid's skills or makeup, so he'd get all the minutes and opportunity he could handle from day one.
The Lakers are in a similar situation, but Kobe Bryant isn't exactly easy on young big men. With no plus defensive players to be found on the current roster, the weight of anchoring a defense is probably too much to ask of Embiid right now. Centers typically develop at a slower pace, and the Bryant-led Lakers probably aren't the most patient franchise.
Don't rule out Sacramento as a good fit either, despite the presence of DeMarcus Cousins. Perhaps a modern-day twin towers could be established, as Cousins could carry the offensive load while Embiid would focus on cleaning the glass and protecting the rim.
Embiid needs that delicate balance of opportunity, a roster that can accentuate his skills and patience. Boston should be able to provide all three better than the other top lottery teams.