In the days remaining before Thursday night's 2014 NBA draft, anyone attempting to forecast the proceedings is only preparing for inevitable disappointment.
If the results were uncertain, news of Joel Embiid's injured foot only adds to the unknown. Judging players based on their footwork, length, quickness, agility, shooting, teamwork and basketball IQ, among countless other skills, is hard enough; now teams picking near the top need to weigh a health risk as well.
This news springs the No. 1 pick back in the air, a selection that holds a ripple effect over the entire first round, the order of which is shown below.
|7||Los Angeles Lakers|
|9||Charlotte Hornets (From Detroit)|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers (From New Orleans)|
|12||Orlando Magic (From New York via Denver)|
|16||Chicago Bulls (From Charlotte)|
|17||Boston Celtics (From Brooklyn)|
|18||Phoenix Suns (From Washington)|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder (From Dallas via Houston and L.A. Lakers)|
|23||Utah Jazz (From Golden State)|
|24||Charlotte Hornets (From Portland)|
|27||Phoenix Suns (From Indiana)|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
When: Thursday, June 26
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York)
TV/Live Stream: ESPN, WatchESPN
Anyone who thinks they figured out the draft better think again.
Just when the early picks began to form in line, injury news surrounding top center Embiid has thrown everything firmly into chaos. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski broke news of the Kansas standout needing surgery to repair his fractured right foot.
Joel Embiid has suffered stress fracture in right foot and slated for surgery on Friday, agent Arn Tellem says.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 19, 2014
His timetable to return is set for four to six months, which means he could be ready for the beginning of the 2014-15 season with a speedy recovery. Yet the Cleveland Cavaliers have to feel queasy about investing the future of their franchise in somebody who might be able to play next season, especially with Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker available.
Worries about a back injury that forced him to sit out the NCAA tournament already raised some questions, but this added blow could vanquish him from top-pick consideration. In his latest mock draft, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman now has Embiid going No. 6 to the Boston Celtics. At that point, he's a risk worth taking for a team looking to hit a home run to expedite the rebuilding process.
Director of player personnel Austin Ainge gave a vague answer when posed with that scenario by The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes.
Austin Ainge on what #Celtics will do if Joel Embiid is available at No 6: "Quite a gamble. I don’t know. We’ll see."— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) June 21, 2014
Draft night typically spawns a few trades, and this year is likely to be no different. There's, of course, the Kevin Love factor, which could motivate a team such as Boston to part with precious picks for the star forward, who will become a free agent next offseason.
Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers were highly active on draft night, trading Jru Holliday to the New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel's draft rights. Wojnarowski noted that they are looking at point guards Dante Exum and Marcus Smart, which has people wondering what happens with Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams.
There's talk of the Los Angeles Lakers hotly pursuing the young point guard. ESPN's Ryen Russillo plotted out a scenario that makes no sense for Philadelphia.
More Embiid fallout. Lakers could move Nash and #7 to Philly for MCW and T Young. 76ers would take Exum at #3.— Russillo (@ryenarussillo) June 20, 2014
Why trade a 22-year-old who averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game last season? Especially when the 76ers already pick twice in the top 10? Basketball Insiders' Eric Pincus denied the latest string of chatter.
Also rumors of any sort of MCW deal to Lakers - I've heard aren't accurate - but then lots of lies this time of year— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) June 21, 2014
Philadelphia's energy would be better spent calling Cleveland to move up to the No. 1 pick, where it can then select the team's top target, Andrew Wiggins. Now that Embiid is hurt, the Cavaliers may be more willing to part with the top selection. If they still want the 7-footer, picking him at No. 3 would draw less pressure than taking him first, and they can also milk the No. 10 selection out of the deal.
Whatever happens, it's sure to be an entertaining night at Barclays Center. Even though the event will take place in their home arena for the first time, Brooklyn Nets fans may want to stay home since their team doesn't have any draft picks.