Kansas Jayhawks Basketball

Joel Embiid Thought Injury Might Drop Him into 2nd Round of 2014 NBA Draft

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26:  A video screen shows the selection of Joel Embiid of Kansas as the #3 overall pick in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2014 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 26, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2014

Had he been injury-free, Joel Embiid would have very likely been taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 overall pick. Falling to the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3 constituted something of a slide, but if you ask Embiid himself, things could have been much worse.

The 20-year-old talked about his draft experience on The Dan Patrick Show, and according to CSNPhilly.com's Enrico Campitelli, "He thought, after suffering the stress fracture in his foot, he could fall into the teens or even all the way into the second round."

Embiid's loss was certainly the Sixers' gain. Had health concerns and his need for foot surgery not emerged, chances are he wouldn't have been available with the No. 3 overall selection.

"I sniffed opportunity," said general manager Sam Hinkie, according to the Associated Press via ESPN.com. "The moment he got hurt, we thought we might get him. We might be just the organization with just the set of owners, and we might be the one to do it."

While recovering from surgery, Embiid wasn't able to make it to the draft in Brooklyn.

"This wasn’t how I imagined going into the NBA," Embiid told Bleacher Report's Jason King. "But I’ll take it."

Despite the setback, all should end well for the University of Kansas product.

Per King, "Less than four years removed from his first game of organized basketball, the Cameroon native is now being hailed as one of the top big man prospects in recent memory. Embiid will make $11,567,300 over the next three years."

Hinkie believes it will take Embiid between five and eight months to fully recover, but head coach Brett Brown is already contemplating how he'll be used.

"I do think that Joel and Nerlens can co-exist," Brown told reporters. "I think I can find a way to play those two guys together. It's a really good problem to have."

In the meantime, all indications are that Philly will suffer through another abysmal season—this time with a healthy Nerlens Noel joining Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams. Some will no doubt label Hinkie's team-building as a form of "tanking," but you can't argue that he's done a masterful job of collecting assets.

And Embiid is chief among them.

As Hinkie told reporters, "If he can remain healthy, he can have a fantastic, fantastic NBA career."

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