Although he was one of the biggest question marks in the class, the Philadelphia 76ers decided that Joel Embiid was worth the risk and selected him with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! was the first to report the pick:
NBA analyst Chris Sheridan seems to think this will be a dramatic turning point in the franchise:
Of course, this was not an easy decision for the 76ers, according to ESPN's Dana O'Neil:
On the other hand, she did think this was a good move:
Eric Karabell of ESPN also thought it was a smart pick to play for the future:
The Kansas center is coming off a fantastic freshman season where he helped the Jayhawks become one of the best teams in the country. He finished the year with 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 rebounds per game as he seemed to improve every time out.
Embiid was then considered a favorite to be the top overall pick until teams discovered a stress fracture in his foot, causing him to get surgery less than a week before the draft. Adding this to his already questionable back issues that held him out of the NCAA tournament, and it makes sense that he would drop on draft boards.
However, Embiid was confident in his ability to work hard to get back into shape, via ESPN's Andy Katz:
If he can come back healthy, this pick could end up being a steal for the 76ers. He has the potential to one day be one of the best centers in the league as someone who can contribute on both ends of the court.
Ryen Russillo of Grantland spoke to scouts before the draft who explained:
I think Embiid is the only difference-maker in the group. I like Parker and Wiggins, but if they are your best player, you are going to be in the lottery every year.
Embiid has natural instincts. I doubt he was coached on much of this stuff, considering how quick his stops have been, and that he just started playing basketball. When he takes the ball on the low block, he inside-pivots like Duncan, and he plays from there: Faces, rips through or passes. It’s awesome. I always want bigs that can punish the defense.
Meanwhile, a number of analysts thought so highly of him that they were willing to take him with the first overall pick even with the injury issues, like Bleacher Report's C.J. Moore and ESPN's Skip Bayless:
Although his slide did not end up being a major one, ESPN's Darren Rovell points out it will be costly:
Then again, this is still a risk for Philadelphia to make this pick with so many talented players left on the board. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman and Howard Beck discussed the pros and cons of the pick:
It seems like the All-Star potential was simply too big to pass up, regardless of the injury issues.
Embiid will now likely take his time in recovery until he is at full strength. Even then, his new team will probably remain patient with his development to help him reach his massive upside. Philadelphia just went through a similar situation with last year's first-round pick Nerlens Noel.
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports points out the strategy:
No matter what happens, you can be certain that many around the league will be examining this pick for years to come.
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