Kansas Jayhawks’ center Joel Embiid was racing up the draft boards of many NBA scouts and executives.
However, since his back injury has kept him out since March 1, scouts are beginning to worry about Embiid’s future and many who project to be at the top of draft are back to debating Embiid vs Duke Blue Devils’ forward Jabari Parker, reports Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.
While a stress fracture in his back means Embiid will face unique scrutiny no matter what if he leaves school as a one-and-done, there will obviously be a difference in the draft stock of the freshman center depending if he returns for the NCAA tournament next week or misses multiple rounds. There is also the possibility somewhere in between, that Embiid is ruled healthy enough to play soon but is clearly bothered in the comeback from a stress fracture with a lot of NBA eyes watching for the slightest signal of trouble.
Several executives and scouts rate Embiid as the best prospect heading toward June 26 while others prefer Duke small forward Jabari Parker, with Parker at No. 1 and Embiid second in the latest NBA.com rankings in consultation with front offices. It is close enough that the NCAA tournament beginning next week could tilt the balance, especially for Embiid and his limited body of work in major events compared to international and U.S. high school competitions that have measured most standouts.
Although some scouts believe it is a two-man race, others insist Embiid’s teammate, Andrew Wiggins, is the top player in the draft.