Skip to content

Bill Simmons: Joel Embiid’s back is fine

May 23, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

Joel Embiid Joel Embiid

Until Joel Embiid injured his back, the Kansas center had become the favorite to go No. 1 in the 2014 NBA draft. With an incredible mix of size, agility and skills, he looked special – even in a draft class that also includes Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.

Embiid could still go No. 1, but it will depend – more than anything else – on his back. His medical records aren’t exactly public, so we’ll take clues about his health wherever we can get them.

Bill Simmons of Grantland:

Embiid’s back is fine. I watched him work out last week.

Q: Wait … what? You watched Joel Embiid work out last week?

A: Yes — at a secret location in Santa Monica. He wasn’t playing against anyone, just going through a two-hour workout with Will Perdue. Here’s what I can tell you: He moves around as effortlessly as a 7-foot Serge Ibaka; he’s such an athletic freak that he’s one of those “still going up as he’s finishing the dunk” guys; his freakish wingspan might make Jay Bilas pass out; he has been playing basketball for only four years (which seems impossible); he gave up a world-class volleyball career; he has 3-point range; he can shoot jump-hooks with both hands already; he couldn’t have seemed more coachable/agreeable/likable; he’s a hard worker with a goofy sense of humor; his voice is just a touch Mutombo-y (deep with a heavy African accent); and his friends call him “Jo-Jo.” And again — his back seemed totally fine.

It’s encouraging Embiid looked so good to Simmons, but key questions remain.

How would Embiid’s back respond to actual competition? How likely is Embiid to suffer more back injuries?

The Cavaliers must learn a lot more about Embiid and his back before drafting him No. 1. The Bucks and 76ers must do their due diligence too before drafting him at No. 2 or No. 3.

Embiid working out without issue is a nice start to that process, but it’s only a start.

  1. jeffkx - May 23, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Yea thanks Bill but I will trust what the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic say..

    • spursareold - May 23, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      Thank you. His back has been ‘just fine’ for stretches in the past, until it isn’t.

      • jeffkx - May 23, 2014 at 9:50 AM

        Exactly. My brother hurt his back playing college football. There are days when he can run 10 miles and two weeks later he has to call of work for 3 days it hurts so bad. Backs are tricky things.

    • chunkala - May 23, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      Exactly. I’m not trusting Bill Simmons and his lack of experience playing anywhere near the a top basketball league. Watching basketball doesn’t always make you an expert. This guy used to write comedy/opinion pieces, who decided that he is an expert on basketball or back injuries?

      • xmen1906 - May 23, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        I agree you shouldn’t trust Bill Simmons but not because of “his lack of experience playing anywhere near the a top basketball league”

  2. aboogy123456 - May 23, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    Cleveland should take Embiid. He has the most upside and if he ends up injured then they can just take Okafor at number one next year.

    • spursareold - May 23, 2014 at 11:22 AM


  3. southbeachtalent - May 23, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    Dr. Simmons is such a gas bag.

  4. saint1997 - May 23, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    I just don’t see how people can perceive Embiid as a possible bust. Barring injury it really seems he has a very high worst case scenario i.e. ibaka

    • felser - May 23, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

      • southbeachtalent - May 23, 2014 at 10:42 AM


      • saint1997 - May 26, 2014 at 5:32 AM

        sorry dude that reference is lost on me, care to explain?

      • felser - May 26, 2014 at 9:51 AM's_Theatre

    • 1historian - May 23, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      Greg Oden

  5. mp4philly - May 23, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Thanks, Dr. Bill.

  6. cantonbound13 - May 23, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    How is Bill Simmons an expert at anything?

    • jimeejohnson - May 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM

      Same as you thinking you know something about basketball. This fool, cantonjerk, has to find something that will get people to look at him and somewhere along the line he found that if he attacked Lebron that he’d get attention. Cantonjerk knows less about basketball than anyone whoever wrote on this blog, but more about anyone about drawing attention to himself. He’s a loser who can’t stand himself so he hides behind his own stupidity. I actually feel sorry for him. Can you imagine living in his skin and having to look in the mirror and face what a jerk you are?

      • cantonbound13 - May 26, 2014 at 8:22 AM

        This coming from the clown that just started watching basketball 4 years ago. The same clown that disappeared from this site after his team lost game 5 of the Finals last year. You probably didn’t know it was a 7 game series.

  7. campcouch - May 23, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    Bill Simmons. Still hurting over missing out on Duncan and this years lottery.

  8. tmatic74 - May 23, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    As a Sixers fan talking to the Cavs or Bucks go for the flashy wing players and leave us to deal with Embid’s bad back;)

  9. zackd2 - May 23, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    Bill Simmons was invited to a private secret workout in Santa Monica for a top prospect?

    What was it open gym at the local YMCA?

    • mytthor - May 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      No…it was a private secret workout in Santa Monica.

  10. rodge1 - May 23, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    Bill Simmons’ opinion is as useless as dental-floss at a Willie Nelson concert.

  11. doctordunkenstein - May 23, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    who cares what simmons has to say?

  12. zackd2 - May 23, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Looks like there’s similar reports from other people too. Still, a bunch of media men telling me a guy is healthy because he says he is and because he’s playing alone in a gym means nothing. Similar to NFL draft pro days for QB to throw without pads, defense, etc.

  13. mackcarrington - May 23, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    Bill Simmons is the kind of guy, that when you look at him, you want to punch him in the face even if you don’t know him.

  14. billtetley53 - May 24, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    Mack: So you’re saying Bill Simmons is in all actuality, kb2408?

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2100)
  2. L. James (1858)
  3. K. Irving (1675)
  4. K. Bryant (1664)
  5. J. Smith (1434)