Just a few days ago, it looked like former Kansas Jayhawks’ center Joel Embiid could be the top-overall pick in next week’s NBA Draft with reports surfacing the Cleveland Cavaliers were “strongly leaning towards” taking Embiid.
However, on Thursday, reports of Embiid’s foot injury began to surface. Embiid has a stress fracture in the navicular bone in his right foot that will require surgery. The surgery could keep Embiid out for four-to-six months, meaning he could miss the start of the season.
Alex Lee of Hoops Rumors believes Embiid might be too talented for the Boston Celtics to pass on at six.
Boston Celtics – Joel Embiid. Boston’s pursuit of Kevin Love could obviously change things, as could their claim that they’ve medically cleared Julius Randle. But given the Celtics needs, it is here where rolling the dice on Embiid starts to become worth it. The C’s are said to be targeting size if they stick at six, and in Embiid, they’d get a big with more upside than any in recent memory.
Celtics’ director of player personnel Austin Ainge doesn’t believe missing time is a problem provided Embiid is going to be healthy.
“[Injuries] are always concerns, especially when it’s a player like [Embiid] that we won’t be able to have in [and] evaluate to really get the risks from our medical staff,” said Ainge via Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston. “There’s a lot of guess work involved, but you’re always trying to weigh short term and long term. We try to think long term that, if a guy has to miss a couple months, that shouldn’t deter us from taking him if he’s going to be the best player long term.”
Embiid is ranked second among all prospects by Jonathan Givony of Draft Express (behind former Kansas teammate, forward Andrew Wiggins). Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 1.4 assists and 0.9 steals per game while shooting 62.6% from the field, 20.0% from beyond the arc and 68.5% from the free throw line.
The Celtics have also shown great interested in former Oklahoma State Cowboys’ point guard Marcus Smart, former Kentucky Wildcats’ power forward Julius Randle, former Arizona Wildcats’ forward Aaron Gordon and former Indiana Hoosiers’ big man Noah Vonleh, among others.