Former number one favorite Joel Embiid might prove skeptics wrong and be selected among the top five picks of the NBA draft after all. And if he isn’t taken that highly, he surely won’t slide far. A report says that Embiid is in play for three teams selecting among the draft’s first seven picks.
The news is courtesy of Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowksi.
Joel Embiid's seriously in play for three spots in top part of lottery: 76ers (3), Celtics (6), Lakers (7), league sources tell Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2014
This isn’t surprising. There were reasons to believe that all three teams would consider taking Embiid before Wojnarowski’s report.
The Philadelphia 76ers have had Embiid and Andrew Wiggins atop their draft board throughout the process. And though they’ve been especially keen on Wiggins and still seem that way, it’s safe to assume that Philly might take a chance on Embiid if they don’t trade up to snag Wiggins. Remember, the Sixers took Nerlens Noel last season despite knowing he’d likely miss the 2013-2014 season. Its a patient rebuilding project in Philadelphia, and GM Sam Hinkie wants to stockpile as much high-level talent as possible.
Embiid makes similar sense for the Boston Celtics. Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, and company fully understand their timeline for success, and long to bring a franchise player into the fold. That type of talent certainly wouldn’t have been available to them before Embiid’s injury; he, Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Dante Exum are this draft’s clear-cut top prospects. The center’s broken foot might give the Celtics a golden opportunity to draft a superstar despite the ping-pong balls failing to fall their way again. And reports say that Ainge is hoping things turn out that way.
As for the Los Angeles Lakers? Conventional wisdom has them trading the seventh pick for a veteran or taking a player that could make an immediate impact. For better or worse, Kobe Bryant looms that large for the league’s premier organization. Embiid is a different route altogether, of course, but fueled rumors this morning that they’d go his direction anyway by tweeting “I’m a Laker” before quickly deleting the message. Whether Embiid showed LA’s hand or not, the Lakers – like the Sixers and Celtics before them – should be targeting a franchise cornerstone. No matter what fans of the team believe, Bryant won’t be around forever and the Lakers aren’t going anywhere special next season.
And so the rumor mill keeps on spinning. We’ll know more about Embiid’s destination in a few hours, but not of his real basketball merits for another year. That’s a tough pill to swallow for some teams, but there’s clearly some that believe he’s worth it.
Where will Embiid go on draft night?
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