The Milwaukee Bucks have ruled out drafting Kansas big man Joel Embiid with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft due to injury concerns, reports Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, new Bucks ownership partner Mark Lasry explained the team’s position on Embiid, who recently underwent surgery to insert two screws into his right foot. The injury is expected to have major implications on his draft stock, and will almost assuredly drop him out of the top two picks in the draft.
At the very least, we know he’s not going to Milwaukee with the second pick.
“Our decision got a lot easier, mainly because Embiid got hurt,” Lasry told Gardner.
The situation feels somewhat similar to last year, when top prospect Nerlens Noel dropped to the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft due to injury concerns. The former Kentucky star ended up missing the entire 2013-14 season, but remains one of the most promising talents in a class that mostly disappointed in its first year.
With guys like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker at the top of this year’s draft, teams won’t have to settle even if Embiid isn’t an option. More than likely, those two wings will be the first two selections in the draft, with the real question being which one will Cleveland ultimately prefer.
So the Bucks are likely simply taking whoever falls to them at No. 2, which explains Lasry saying the Embiid decision made things easier. Without him on the board, Milwaukee is essentially just taking whoever Cleveland doesn’t; the toughest choices may not begin until Philadelphia goes on the clock with the No. 3 pick.
The Bucks will likely be adding another wing, though, which could have interesting implications for the team next season. With 2013 first-rounder Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the most exciting players in the class, looking like the starter at small forward, it will be interesting to see how Larry Drew builds his rotation next year, assuming Wiggins or Parker joins the team.