Projected Draft Range: Top six
Convention was destroyed last Thursday the moment it was announced that Joel Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his right foot, stripping him of his status as the likely No. 1 overall pick.
Now, with Embiid's future employer uncertain, we have to try to project just how scary this sort of ailment is.
Let's start with the basics.
According to Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy, Embiid's injury was not to a metatarsal, but instead to the navicular bone. The concerning news there, per Kennedy, is that Embiid's injury is eerily similar to that of Yao Ming, whose career was shortened to eight seasons due to a litany of foot issues.
What's perhaps more troubling is that Embiid's stress fracture may be indicative of a larger, long-term problem, according to Dr. Ken Jung, via Bleacher Report's Will Carroll:
Having multiple stress fractures can certainly indicate a systemic problem. Stress fractures can occur due to metabolic reasons where the body's ability to heal from the stress of working out is overloaded. Factors affecting bone health include endocrine/hormones, diet, and genetics. Training regimen plays a huge factor, especially if the individual is undergoing intense workouts or a new workout regimen.
The good news is that Embiid doesn't figure to fall too far on draft day, despite injury concerns.
"After polling teams, currently Embiid's range appears to be 3-6 right now," ESPN's Chad Ford tweeted last Thursday.
Given his tremendous upside, shot-blocking prowess (4.5 per 40 minutes last season) and continuously developing offensive game, Embiid could wind up being a steal should he fall out of the top three or even top five.
But at a certain point, teams will have to realize that Embiid not only represents the best value on the board, but is far and away the best talent as well.
Averages per 40 minutes of 19.4 points, 14 rebounds and 4.5 blocks, per Sports-Reference.com, point to Embiid's insane potential, which remains the highest in this year's class.
We can talk about Greg Oden, Sam Bowie, Ming and Bill Walton all we want, but Embiid is a case independent of those four.
Common threads link them, sure, but there's no way of knowing whether Embiid will boom or bust. For now, all we have to go on is his tremendous freshman season and the promise that lies ahead.
Prediction: Boom (Tentatively)