Joel Embiid is an elite defender but injury will impact where NBA teams will draft him

June 24

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

Joel Embiid wasn’t nearly as highly regarded as Andrew Wiggins coming out, but like Anthony Davis before him he’s had a meteoric rise and could potentially be the number one pick. His back injury is a red flag, even if only a minor one at this point, but it cannot be overlooked in a big man. The foot injury on the other hand? That’s a major red flag. It is similar to one of the many injuries that Yao Ming suffered. This isn’t to say he’s doomed to Yao Ming’s fate, as guys like Rasheed Wallace came back from foot injuries for a lengthy career, but it’s certainly worth noting.

That said, a big man like Embiid is incredibly tough to pass up. He combines an elite defensive game with a raw, but developing, offensive game. His defensive rating last season, which is points allowed per 100 possessions, was the best on the team and in the Big 12 (minimum 20 games played) at 90.9.

His offensive rating (116.6) ranked 25th in the conference.

So what does Embiid do well?

Embiid doesn’t venture far away from the basket on the offensive end, but does benefit from putbacks. Still, he shot 63.9 percent on two-point shots, which is very good. He also shot 68.5 percent from the free throw line, another very good number for a big man.
Embiid ranked in the top 20 nationally in defensive rebound percentage, rebounding percentage and block percentage. He’s really the complete package as far as big men are concerned.

Where does he fit best?

Embiid would provide an immediate starter for Cleveland with the top pick. Spencer Hawes comes off the books and the Cavaliers couldn’t possibly pick up the team option on Anderson Varejao with his health issues. Philadelphia makes sense, but they did draft Nerlens Noel last year. Milwaukee makes less sense given the gigantic contract they gave to Larry Sanders. Although his foot injury could drop him from the top spot, and potentially out of the top three.

Who drafts him?

Before his injuries Embiid was a potential top pick, but now it looks like his stock is dropping — not by much though. Embiid’s game is much more advanced than most big men coming out, and because of that he’ll be a hot commodity (like Nerlens Noel) despite injury.

Brendan Darr loves sports and works as a producer at 106.7 The Fan for their midday show, Grant and Danny. You can follow him on Twitter: @BrendanDarr

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