A small bone in Joel Embiid's foot may have changed Dante Exum's career.
Exum was almost guaranteed to land on the Orlando Magic. Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker would've gone first, second and third overall in some sort of order. And Exum would've fallen to No. 4, into the lap of Orlando which is desperate for a point guard.
Then the navicular bone of Embiid's right foot suffered a stress fracture that required surgery (h/t ESPN). An NBA general manager told Sporting News' Sean Deveney that now "you can't use a Top 5 pick" on Embiid.
Embiid falling out of the top five, or even top three, will almost definitely alter where Exum is drafted. Even before Embiid broke his foot, Deveney reported that Milwaukee was considering Exum at No. 2. He fills a need for the Bucks.
Acquiring Exum would allow them to move Brandon Knight to shooting guard. According to 82games.com, Knight outplayed his opponent by a player efficiency rating of 8.5 at the 2. At the 1, he was outplayed.
Despite this disparity, Milwaukee is likely hesitant to move Knight to the 2 because he's 6'3", 189 pounds. He doesn't have the size to defend larger shooting guards. 6'5", 230-pound Lance Stephenson plays (or at least played) in his division for crying out loud.
Exum eliminates this issue. He's 6'6". In the event Knight can't guard a Stephenson-sized 2, Exum can.
And name a more physically gifted lineup than Exum, Knight, Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson and Larry Sanders. Good luck.
Of course, the Bucks' lineup is even more physically gifted if Exum is replaced with Wiggins. If they draft him instead, don't count the Philadelphia 76ers out at No. 3 just because Michael Carter-Williams is one of their two measly building blocks. ESPN's Ryen Russillo dropped this bomb on Twitter late last week:
As mind-blowing as the rumor is, it isn't as unrealistic as it sounds.
Thaddeus Young averaged 17.9 points and 6.0 rebounds last season. He'd help the Los Angeles Lakers win now better than anyone they could select at No. 7 would. Young wouldn't be nearly as valuable long-term as, say, Marcus Smart, but that's where Carter-Williams comes in.
Carter-Williams averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game this year, but his potential pales in comparison to Exum's.
If this trade happens, Philadelphia could realistically leave the first round with a package of Exum, Julius Randle and Doug McDermott. Pair them with Nerlens Noel, and the 76ers will be everyone's favorite team to start a franchise with in NBA 2K15. So while they'd rather pair Wiggins with Carter-Williams, Exum and the power forward of their choice isn't the worst consolation prize in draft history.
But if Exum still magically falls to No. 4 because Philadelphia drafts Noah Vonleh instead and Orlando opts for Embiid knowing it can choose between four point guards at No. 12, Utah Jazz fans should send Embiid's navicular bone a thank-you card.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.
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