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Report: Scouts, GMs leaning toward Joel Embiid for No. 1 pick

May 20, 2014, 1:38 PM EDT

Joel Embiid AP

Predicting the No. 1 pick in this NBA Draft before Tuesday night’s draft lottery is impossible — there is not a consensus between Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid….

Or is there? Veteran NBA reporter Mark Heisler, writing for Forbes, has this note coming out of the Chicago pre-draft combine last week.

If there’s no consensus No. 1 pick in the press, one super prospect emerged in the minds of the NBA people I talked to. That was Embiid, the 7-0, 250-pound (as listed by Kansas) freshman who started around No. 5 on sheer size and raw potential and realized enough of it to rocket to No. 1 in mid-season when a GM told me, “His ceiling is Hakeem Olajuwon. His basement is Serge Ibaka.”

Said GM comment came before Embiid missed the end of the season and the NCAA Tournament with a stress fracture in his back — the second time in two years he had that injury. A lot of Embiid’s draft status comes down to what team doctors find when they get a closer look at is back.

This all feels like a smoke screen to PBT’s draft expert Ed Isaacson of the and Rotoworld.

“Embiid may be a popular pick among NBA executives if he is healthy, but with that still outstanding, and with none of the top players having been brought in by teams yet, any opinion is far from set in stone. Once the draft order is known tonight, we will have a better idea of what player may be the best fit for the team at #1, but with many teams who have a good shot desperate to get this right, expect teams to take their time up to the draft making their decision.

“Also, NBA executives do not like giving their draft thoughts out, even if they are unnamed. The “smoke screen” quotes from executives will increase over the coming weeks and we will hear Embiid, Wiggins, and Parker all become “popular” picks at #1. Each offers something different to a team, and legitimate arguments can be made for all of them. This may all be a case of executives saying Embiid because it is very safe to say you like the 7-footer who has a ton of untapped potential.”

We will likely have a better idea who goes No. 1 as the Draft itself gets close… then again we thought we had an idea last year and Cleveland chose Anthony Bennett. A lot of things could happen here.

  1. ranfan12 - May 20, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    thats some ceiling and basement

    • bklyn221 - May 20, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      exactly what I was thinking.

  2. moseskkim - May 20, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    ahh anthony bennett’s name makes me cringe. its not his fault and im happy for the money hes getting and hope he’ll be good but for the cavaliers.. that was such a bad pick. wowzer 1st pick on him? ouch

    • rjthakid - May 21, 2014 at 7:57 AM

      I think Anthony Bennett still could be fantastic player. His ability to bang in the post then step out to knock down a 3 is pretty special. I think if he was taken at any spot other than #1 he’d be viewed quite differently.

  3. sportsfan18 - May 20, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Let’s see… 7 feet tall and has a bad back… ALREADY…

    Sure, he should be picked but the #1 pick of the entire draft should have close to ZERO issues or hopefully none at all…

    • loungefly74 - May 20, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      ugh…Greg Oden all over again? Yeah…I’m thinking of that song off of Alice in Chain’s incredible EP Jar of Flies, “I stay away”.

      “His basement is Greg Oden.*”…BOOM, term3186. you nailed it (just now saw that)!!!!

      How many “blue chip” kids are there in this draft? 3…maybe 6? definitely don’t want to pull a “Darko”!

      As a Laker fan…it feels great to knew we should come away with someone potentially very good.

  4. term3186 - May 20, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    His basement is Greg Oden.*

  5. aboogy123456 - May 20, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    I can definitely see Embiid as the best player in this draft but we have to remember it’s a GMs job on the line if they get it wrong. I think Parker goes ahead of Embiid not because he will be better, but he is a safer pick and less likely to get you fired.

  6. pudgalvin - May 20, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    I think the days of drafting big men with medical questions (especially back concerns) ended with poor Greg Oden. He’s still a high pick, but nobody will ever pass on Durant for Oden again in the near future.

    • 00maltliquor - May 20, 2014 at 2:50 PM


      • pudgalvin - May 20, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        I admit I have no idea how any of the 3 top picks will turn out, but that’s going to be in the back of every GM’s mind at least until Durant retires. I highly doubt any of the players will be as good as Durant or as injured as Oden, but why take that that chance? If they’re in the same ballpark as far as talent, go for the guy without the injury history. It’s not a big man’s game anymore anyway.

  7. imakcds - May 20, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    A bad back is never a good thing…I still would have selected him, but I didn’t know the the injury was the 2nd incident, and that to me seals the deal. no way would I go near Embiid.

  8. csbanter - May 20, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    Oh no not another Hasheem Thabeet. Thabeet is so bad the Thunder refuse to put him in even though Ibaka is out. Embiid, Thabeet, Oden, Sheldon Williams. Jabari Parker is a sure thing. Milwaukee don’t F this up.

  9. haaaaasoooooo - May 20, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    If the bucks get the number 1 pick: Wiggins

  10. granadafan - May 20, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    This is a guard and mobile forward league now. I wouldn’t take Embiid, especially with his back issues.

  11. rajbais - May 20, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    Thats one GM talking to Heisler.

    The GM probably never saw Hakeem play.

    After all if he did he wouldnt pick one and dones and treat the draft like it was 1984, the best draft ever.

  12. 1historian - May 20, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    Embiid – back problems

    Wiggins – too skinny – needs to put on at least 25-30 lbs and then – will he still have the athleticism?

    Parker – 6’8″ 235, NBA body now, NBA ready NOW.

    Not even close

  13. bhunter1995 - May 21, 2014 at 2:27 AM

    Here is a rule of thumb that a lot of GMs should follow when dealing with top 3 picks

    Draft a guy that will be an immediate impact player, not a project player. Drafting for potential instead of what a player already is is how you get guys like Thabeet or Bogut (no diss but Bogut wasn’t, and never will be worth a first overall pick)going top 3.

    GMs start salivating at the prospect of a seven footer with mobility and end up forgetting that the guy cant hit a post hook from five feet and has no jumpshot, rationalizing their decision by saying that a player can always develop an offensive game, but half the time these guys never do. A first or second pick should be a lock, it should be an immediate impact player that translates to more wins, not some unskilled seven footer who averages 8 PPG and 7 RPG. Wiggins and Parker should go 1st and 2nd, a question mark like Embiid is worth a 5th or a 6th pick but he won’t be an immediate impact player, he won’t give your franchise ten or fifteen more wins like Wiggins will.

    Big men are extremely valuable and GMs feel like its worth the risk and sometimes it pays off but you shouldn’t gamble with a first or second overall pick, just take the best guy on the board. Project players should get drafted with picks in the bottom of the lotto and further down into the first and second round, the potential for failure is to high to take a guy who might never be more then a banger in the paint.

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