Report: Joel Embiid the 'Front-Runner' for No. 1 Pick in 2014 NBA Draft

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2014

LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 18:  Joel Embiid #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts after scoring during the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Allen Fieldhouse on January 18, 2014 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Joel Embiid is on the Cleveland Cavaliers' brain and atop their 2014 NBA draft board. 

As are Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.

Go figure.

All 250 pounds of Embiid arrived in Cleveland Tuesday to work out with the Cavaliers, who, right now, are expected to select the big man out of Kansas with their No. 1 pick. Sources told's Jeff Goodman that Embiid is the "front-runner" to go first overall.

Medical evaluations will still play a part in his draft-day stock, though. If the Cavaliers find he has a clean bill of health, they will welcome him to Cleveland with open arms and elephantine-sized pajamas. 

Unless they decide to draft Wiggins or Parker.

"Embiid's teammate, Andrew Wiggins, and Jabari Parker are also in the mix for the top overall pick, sources told ESPN," Goodman writes. 

Here's what all this essentially means: The three highest-rated draft prospects are still the three highest-rated draft prospects.


Wiggins or Parker could still go to the Cavs as well.
Wiggins or Parker could still go to the Cavs as well.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Although Goodman calls Embiid the front-runner, it doesn't sound like the Cavs have made up their minds. Reports have conflicted with one another since Cleveland won its second straight lottery. Under no certain terms does the team seem locked into any one player at this point.

It was Goodman who first claimed the Cavs were targeting Embiid back in May. Soon after, Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico was hearing something totally different:

Is it more likely the Cavs have continuously flip-flopped on the decision at hand or that we have absolutely no idea what's going on? 

Roll with the latter.

Cleveland has a gaping hole to fill up front, even with Anderson Varejao on the docket. Drafting Embiid would make sense. Selecting him, however, demands patience—patience owner Dan Gilbert and general manager David Griffin might not have, according to's Chad Ford (subscription required):

Griffin is under the same mandate that Grant was. Gilbert wants the Cavs out of the lottery and in the playoffs in 2015. While Embiid might have the biggest upside of anyone in the draft, he also is the least NBA-ready of the top prospects. Big men always take a little longer to develop, and while Embiid is both athletic and skilled, his basketball IQ remains low, he can get frustrated when things are not going his way and many GMs are predicting he's going to be a foul magnet as a rookie.

Win-now edicts won't preclude the Cavs from taking Embiid, but don't go Sharpie-ing him in at No. 1 now. Use a pencil or dry-erase board—anything that isn't permanent. 

"We're going to be open-minded to whatever it is that advances our cause the furthest," Griffin said in May, via

If Embiid advances the Cavs' cause the most, they'll take him. If he doesn't, they won't. And if that makes him the front-runner to go No. 1, then yeah, that's exactly what he is.