Joel Embiid made it official what had been assumed for months and declared for the NBA draft after one season with the Kansas Jayhawks, a season that came to a premature end due to a back injury, but the 7-foot center still has a shot to be the top pick in this year’s draft.
The Cameroon native wasn’t even the top freshman on his own team as that distinction went to the much-ballyhooed Andrew Wiggins who could go No. 1 too, but his impressive footwork, outside shot and upside has one NBA scout telling Alex Kennedy that he sees him as a combination of Hall of Famer’s Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing.
Per Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:
“He has had the biggest impact on this draft so far. Entering the season, the conversation was about Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, and then scouts starting falling for Embiid. Scouts were falling in love with him and then looking over their shoulder hoping that no other teams were noticing how great he looked. Obviously, he kept improving and the secret got out. He’s able to do so many things at his size that nobody else can. He has amazing footwork, great athleticism, nice touch and a beautiful stroke on his shot. He may have the highest upside in the draft because he still has so much room to grow. His footwork reminds me of Hakeem Olajuwon and his power, outside shot and skills remind me a little of Patrick Ewing. He could be really, really good.”
Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game while shooting 62.6 percent from the floor in his lone season in Lawrence. If he turns out to be half the players that Olajuwon or Ewing turned out to be, the team that drafts him will be more than happy.