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:
Philadelphia will select Joel Embiid with the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2014
NBA analyst Chris Sheridan seems to think this will be a dramatic turning point in the franchise:
This is the moment in time, 7:50 p.m. EDT June 26, 2014, when some team is making a move for Joel Embiid that will ultimately yield a title.— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) June 26, 2014
Of course, this was not an easy decision for the 76ers, according to ESPN's Dana O'Neil:
Feel for 76ers. Draft Embiid & he's a bust, you lose. Don't draft him & he's as good as was at Kansas, lose. Philly holding its breath— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) June 26, 2014
On the other hand, she did think this was a good move:
Sixers might have gotten steal of draft. Embiid is terrific, smart, great personality. Hope for his sake & 76ers organization he heals well— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) June 26, 2014
Eric Karabell of ESPN also thought it was a smart pick to play for the future:
Take Embiid! Sixers playing for 2016 and beyond anyway.— Eric Karabell (@karabellespn) June 26, 2014
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:
Just got statement from Embiid saying in part, "I'm more determined than ever and looking forward to getting back to work with my new team."— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) June 26, 2014
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:
And for the record I would still take Embiid No. 1 overall. Betting he'll still end up best player in Draft.— CJ Moore (@CJMooreBR) June 26, 2014
From what I'm hearing, despite the stress fracture in his back then foot, Embiid's body still worth the long-term risk at No. 1 overall.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 26, 2014
Although his slide did not end up being a major one, ESPN's Darren Rovell points out it will be costly:
Embiid's slide from No. 1 to No. 3 cost him $4.71 million over 4 years.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) June 26, 2014
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:
Nerlens Noel in 2013. Joel Embiid in 2014. 76ers stockpiling assets. Acquire as much talent as possible and figure rest out later.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 26, 2014
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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