The Cleveland Cavaliers got lucky in the lottery once again, winning the number one overall pick for the third time in four years. They may try to deal the pick, but will likely wind up picking between former Kansas Jayhawks’ center Joel Embiid, his college teammate, forward Andrew Wiggins or former Duke Blue Devils’ forward Jabari Parker with Australian point guard Dante Exum as the dark horse (and they are reportedly keeping their options open).
Several scouts believe Embiid is the runaway number one pick, but that may not be the case for one big reason.
In 2013, the Cavaliers used the number one overall pick on former UNLV Runnin’ Rebels forward Anthony Bennett and his first year was a complete disaster. Bennett missed summer league and training camp, then had a terrible season. He averaged just 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game while shooting 35.6% from the field, 24.5% from beyond the arc and 63.8% from the free throw line in 12.8 minutes per games. He appeared in 52 games.
Chad Ford of ESPN.com reports that Cavaliers may be hesitant to select Embiid because of what happened with Bennett last season.
First, team doctors are going to have to get comfortable with his back. If there is any hint that it may require more treatment or need long-term correction, the chances of Embiid going No. 1 dwindle. The Cavs need a player who can play now, and the feeling is that Embiid, who already is the least experienced of the top prospects, can’t afford to miss summer league and training camp. You saw what happened to Bennett last season — they don’t want to repeat that again this season.
Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.4 assists per game last season.