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Potential No. 1 pick Joel Embiid sees back specialist in Los Angeles

Mar 10, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT

Joel Embiid AP

If you were looking for reasons that potential No. 1 pick Joel Embiid should forsake another year of college at Kansas and turn pro in the 2014 draft, this is a reminder of what is at the top of the list.

Embiid is out the last few games of the regular season with what was first described as a back strain, but now he has gone to the West Coast to see a specialist, reports the Kansas City Star.

Embiid, sidelined by an undisclosed lower-back injury, was to meet with a doctor Monday morning (in Los Angeles) before returning to Lawrence. If it sounds ominous, well, that’s the nature of back injuries. But Coach Bill Self tried to soothe any concerns Sunday, saying the trip to California was planned since Embiid was shut down for the last two games of the regular season.

For Embiid and his teammates concerns focus around the NCAA tournament — they are the No. 10 team in the country and one that has played better of late as Embiid and Andrew Wiggins (another potential No. 1 pick) have adjusted to college ball. They are certainly a team that could make the Final Four.

Will this injury impact his draft status? Depends on the injury, but probably not much if at all unless it is serious.

While Embiid has suggested he could stay for another year of college, it would be hard to do as he is a potential No. 1 pick — draftexpress.com has him ranked in the top slot right now. The Bucks are reportedly leaning toward Embiid if they get the No. 1 pick.

Embiid has excellent NBA center size (7’0”, 7’5” wingspan, 250 pounds with room to grow) and athleticism. He is already a good rim protector and rebounder because of his size and mobility, but he has the potential to be a defensive force in the paint, he can run the floor, and while he is still raw on offense he has shown growth and has a drop step, jump hook and some other moves that take advantage of his mobility. He has a lot of potential, it’s just a question of how much of it he can fulfill.

GMs become enamored with big men who have upside and that pretty much defines Embiid. Which means you can be sure he is going high in the draft. And this injury is a reminder of how fragile that big payday can be. Too many guys who are not ready come out too early for the draft, but Embiid is one of the guys who should. A lock top three pick, he is risking a lot of money staying back for a year. This injury is just a reminder of that. And hopefully nothing more.

  1. stadix093 - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    Anyone who takes Embiid over Parker has never heard of Jordan or KD.

  2. rushbacker - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    I worry the most about knees with guys that size (see Andrew Bynum for reference). If he kid is also having back problems at his age, teams should be rightfully terrified about his future. Any GM that drafts this kid over Wiggin or Jabari Parker will be rightfully villified as a gigantic moron if this proves to be another Greg Oden situation.

    • granadafan - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:42 PM

      Bynum’s knees aren’t the problem. It’s his heart and the gray stuff between his ears that’s hurting him.

      • pudgalvin - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:01 PM

        The guys a turd, but he had basically turned into 1b for the best center in the league before his knees really gave out.

    • sumkat - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:13 PM

      Agreed with Granadafan. Not saying Bynum has no knee issues, but they aren’t his big issue.

      Rightfully or not, 7 footers get picked higher, generally. The one time in recent history it hasn’t happened (Roy Hibbert) most of the GM’s that passed on him with they didn’t. If you want a reference, check Greg Oden going over Durant. Or Bowie going over Jordan.

      Bigs who can play are still the hardest thing to find, so bigs that can play will still shoot up the draft board

    • trevor123698 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      All he needs is calcium and its 59 direct and indirect mineral cofactors.

  3. adoombray - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    Yeah, because Noel declaring for the draft when he was a presumptive number one while injured worked out so great for him.

    Be smart kid, this is the Wiggins draft, you’re gonna get way below your market value if the injury is any kind of serious. As it should be.

    • sumkat - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:09 PM

      How much better would it of worked out for Noel? He still would of missed most of, if not all of, this year, and he’d be in a much better draft class. Considering he would of hardly played, he’d probably be a 15-18ish pick. If there was a year to think you could jump up the board, last year was it

      I the meantime, he’s been able to work on other aspects of his game (jump shot, post moves, etc) without NCAA time regulations, and he’s year closer to his 2nd NBA contract (where the big money comes in). If he’s as effective as people hoped going into last year, it won’t matter 3 years from now that he missed this year, he’ll get a fortune.

    • pudgalvin - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:12 PM

      How has it worked out poorly for Noel? He gets a redshirt year (which and NBA GM’s dream for a big guy coming to the league at 19), his team also managed to draft the rookie of the year in the same year they got him, his team has another top 3 pick this year with cap space to go along with it in a solid NBA market, and he’s still making 2.7 million a year. He’s on a team as well positioned for the future as any.

      On the other hand, he could have put off his payday for 2 more years; since he wouldn’t end up playing more than 6 or 7 games this year, the only thing your doing come back for one year is exposing yourself to more chance of injury. If your doing it to get better, you’re staying to actually play a season. Maybe your not as explosive in two years, maybe theres 6 jabari parkers and 6 andrew wiggins in that draft, and maybe you end up on the Bobcats instead. Seems like he made a pretty good choice to me.e

  4. sumkat - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    The only reason I think he may not go #1 is because the Sixers may have the 1st pick, and I don’t think they take him with Noel on the roster already. Outside of that, I think he goes #1, you can’t learn to be a 7 footer.

    If it’s the bucks, or if someone else wins the lottery, I still think he goes #1 (assuming this isn’t serious)

  5. pharohislife - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    Jared Sullinger made the mistake of staying one year too long in college, after being considered a lottery pick his 1st year he stayed a second and suffered thru back problems which led him to slide out of the lottery and all the way to 21 to the Celtics.

    Now he plays with a chip on his shoulder and after the back surgery last season he’s been playing better than ever, so I wouldn’t have it any other way for him.

  6. pharohislife - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    The Bucks may have the NBA’s best record by far but that doesn’t necessarily mean their going to get the #1 Pick and rightfully so, the teams that take tanking to the max-not semi tanking but seriously take it to the max like The 76ers and Bucks they don’t deserve to have that 1st pick and if past draft lottery’s are any indication they likely won’t get it. Usuallly it’s somewhere around the 3rd-5th worst record that ends up with the #1 Pick.

    • sumkat - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:31 PM

      Cleveland had the worst record when they picked LeBron

      Orlando had the worst record when they picked Howard

      LA had the 2nd worst record when they picked Giffin

      It doesn’t make anything for sure, but it does increase the odds. Besides, this year, it’s not all about getting the top pick, or in the top 2. The top 4 are guys that any team would love to have. I’m not saying I agree with the idea (I do, the system is they way the system is, but that’s another point), but if there is a year to tank, this is the year

      • pharohislife - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:42 PM

        Yup this is most definitly the year where you can have almost any pick in the Top 5 and have a great chance at getting a Franchise altering player but I truly do just hope the Bucks and 76ers do end up with picks 4 and 5, they may still be good picks but as long as they don’t get the option of Wiggins, Parker or Embiid I’m fine with that. The Magic who are nearly just as bad as those 2 teams but play hard and put up a fight almost every game are more deserving of one of the first few picks.

      • sumkat - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:53 PM

        If a team benefits from something anti-tanking, it shouldn’t be the Magic. They practically invented tanking

      • pharohislife - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:04 PM

        @sumkat How so by being forced to trade their best player in Dwight Howard and getting back a bunch of ok pieces, im sure that wasn’t what they planned, it’s what Dwight Howard forced upon them.

      • sumkat - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:50 PM

        They still got their guy, got more than a half of a decade from him, and made a finals run (very similar to what they did with the last big man they tanked for). They could of traded him a year earlier, or even during that off-season when his value was higher

        A dominant player you can build around and get a chance at a title. The exact reason you tank, the exact thing that happened

        Not the bucks or sixers fault they couldn’t keep him in town, and it doesn’t change the fact that they had the worst record in the league the year they got him, and the plan to become contenders by tanking worked

      • pudgalvin - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:18 PM

        I really see no issue with tanking. Homeboys Magic example is exactly right. Sure, you could go the Pistons route and just sign random free agents to be terrible, or you could go the Nets route and be a first round playoff looser every year for the forseable future. Or, you could start your team over, built from the bottom up and position yourself for one of the best young players in the game, whoever that may be, and be positioned to win in the future. It’s not like your tanking forever. This isn’t an MLB situation where half the teams are content to sit back, get their asses kicked for 15 years on end and rake in the cash. Except for the Bobcats. They might be doing that. Do they actually sell any tickets to their games, though?

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