Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Joel Embiid taking it to Baylor.
No one in this draft scares me more than Joel Embiid.
A seven-footer with an iffy back is nothing to brush off. It was a major red flag when Embiid didn't go to the NBA Draft Combine last week. Sure, it's customary for the projected top picks to bypass it, but not when you're in Embiid's position.
If you were healed from your back injury, wouldn't you want to showcase that to potential teams? Wouldn't you want to prove that you're worthy of a potential No. 1 pick?
76ers beat writer Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News shared similar sentiments in Tuesday's column:
What would fan reaction be if Embiid's balky back, which kept him out of the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments this past season, forced him to miss considerable time in his rookie season? Would they be willing to take that chance?
"There are two injuries that you seriously worry about with a big man, and that's a knee or a back," said one scout in Chicago. "Of course every team will be diligent in their exams on him, but you never know. Perhaps the risk turns out to be slim. But risk is risk, and for a team that sort of got burned on the Bynum situation, you wonder if they'd lean towards being cautious."
Embiid could very well go on to be the next Hakeem Olajuwon, but he can just as easily be the next Greg Oden. And for the team who has had to deal with significant injuries to big men over the last few years, how inclined are they to dive right back into those shark-infested waters?
However, when he was healthy, he only had the highest player efficiency rating in the Big 12 (28.2). You worry about the fit with Noel the same way you do with Michael Carter-Williams and Dante Exum, but this pairing might be too enticing to pass up.
Draft Scenario: Exum and Embiid are very close, but Embiid gets the nod because of his body of work this year and his upside. If the back checks out in predraft workouts and the possibility of the Embiid/Noel Twin Towers 2014 is too much for Sam Hinkie to pass up, then he's the selection. Lots of red flags, but if he's healthy, he's worthy of the No. 3 pick. Hinkie's not scared.