Mar 27, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT
Now, he’s doing what we all knew he would.
Kansas star Joel Embiid – a possible No. 1 overall choice – has decided to enter the June NBA draft, sources told Yahoo Sports.
A formal announcement on Embiid’s decision is expected soon. In the past week, Embiid has progressed in settling on agent representation, but no final decision has been made, sources said.
Embiid, a 7-foot center, averaged 11.2 points on 63 percent shooting, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 23.1 minutes per game for Kansas this season. Beyond his production, Embiid has stood out for his athletic prowess and fluidity.
He’s on a short list – one that might also include only Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker – to become the No. 1 pick.
Of course, the biggest question about Embiid is his health. He suffered a back injury that kept him out of Kansas’ final six games, including both the Jayhawks’ NCAA Tournament games.
Ben Wedro of MD direct analyzed that type of injury in great depth, and offers this take on Embiid:
Making the diagnosis in the early stage of spondylolysis is important because the injury is treated with time and rest allowing bones to heal. Patience is needed because it can take 12 weeks or more and there are complications to be had if the athlte rushes back to activity. If there are bilateral pars defects or fractures, there is a possibility that the vertebral column might slide forward potentially causing irritation and inflammation to the nerves leaving the spinal canal. This slippage is called spondylolisthesis (listhesis=dislocation). Should this occur,, CT or MRI imaging may be required for diagnosis and surgery needed to stabilize the lumbar vertebrae.
Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are common injuries that afflict young athletes. Population studies show that 3-4% of the general young adult population will have spondyloysis, but up to 15% of athletes will have damage that can be seen on plain x-ray. Of those athletes with spondylolysis, almost half will have spondylolisthesis. Athletes increase their risk of developing a stress fracture if they have poor technique, poor posture, lack core stability, strength and flexibility and are guilty of overtraining. While it is a medical mantra that most overuse injuries can be prevented, it’s tough understanding the mechanical stresses that are placed on the lumbar spine of a seven foot tall athlete. With time, Joel Embiid will likely heal nicely and by next fall will be playing in the pros instead if college.
Mr. Embiid understood the lesson of listening to one’s body and doing the right thing by it. He might have been able to push through his injury and perhaps his Jayhawks might have won a couple of extra games this year…or he could have turned his back into disaster with a lifetime of pain.
If Embiid needs 12 weeks to recover, that would definitely bump into the pre-draft process. NBA teams will examine his medical records and make their own judgments, and most franchises will consider his long-term outlook more than how much he can contribute immediately.
But with Wiggins also making a strong case for becoming the top pick – assuming he also declares for the draft – the slightest edge could make the difference. As could which team wins the lottery.
I’d take the field over Embiid if predicting the No. 1 pick right now. But if forced to choose a single player, it’s Embiid.
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