Jan 18, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) dunks the ball against Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Markel Brown (22) in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 80-78. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Profile: Joel Embiid


Bursting onto the scene thanks to strong play on both ends of the floor, former Kansas center Joel Embiid seemed poised to be the number one selection in this years draft; then, a fractured right foot changed everything. With Embiid out at least four-to-six months, there’s no telling where he might land in the draft. However, if he’s able to overcome this injury, Embiid could be a steal for whoever ends up drafting him. 


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In the shadow of fellow freshman Andrew Wiggins, Embiid put up some great numbers. He posted the highest true shooting percentage of anyone in the class, while blocking shots left and right on the defensive end. He wasn’t given a huge role offensively, averaging only 10.5 possessions per-game per DraftExpress, but he showed off a nice, wide ranging offensive game for someone who’s only been playing basketball a few years. 


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  • Defensive Upside 

Embiid possesses all the tools to become a very good defensive player at the next level. He has great size to battle down low, while also being able to move well enough to step out and defend more mobile centers if need be. Embiid also has the potential to be a dominant rim protector. He was an absolute terror inside, posting a 4.5 blocks per-40 minutes number, while altering many more. He’s still got some work to do concept wise, but Embiid has all the tools to become a dominant defender at the next level. 

  • Offensive Upside 

Having only played organized basketball for a few years, Embiid displayed a very nice offensive game while healthy. He has an array of different moves he can go to in the post, while also being able to step out and knock down the jumper from time to time. The Cameroonian also showed he has an ability to take over the game if need be, and do so in a highly efficient manner. He’s able to attack off the dribble, and has a strong ability to pass out of the post and out of double teams if need be. 


  • Basketball IQ

At this point in his career, Embiid is still very raw. He showed off some questionable decision making, struggling with turnovers, coughing the ball up 4.1 times per-40 minutes. Embiid also needs to work on his shot selection and not forcing it on offense. He’s got the tools to be dominant on that end of the floor, but he needs to learn when it’s the right time to go, and when it isn’t. He also still has some work to do on the defensive end with his reaction time and not committing fouls. For someone who’s only played basketball since 2011, Embiid is very far along, and these things will all undoubtedly come with more time. 

  • Strength and Toughness 

For a guy his size, Embiid gets bullied around a little bit too much. He’s still going to be able to add weight to his frame, and has all the tools physically, just needs to be more willing to take contact. He isn’t an overly physical player on the glass or the defensive end, and has a tendency to not always go up strong on the offensive end. It’s a little thing, but against bigger, stronger, more physical players in the NBA, it could be a big thing. 


Arguably the top prospect in the draft, Embiid took a major hit thanks to his injury concerns. He’s got a lot of upside on both ends of the floor, but will teams be willing to take the risk due to his fractured right foot? The injury is what seemingly ended the careers of Bill Walton and Yao Ming after all. 

As for the Magic at four, they could very well be in play for Embiid now. There’s a chance the Cleveland Cavaliers trade down and try to get him with the third selection, but if he’s available at four, it could be hard for the Magic to pass up, even with Nikola Vucevic in the middle already. The one caveat is that general manager Rob Hennigan has shown a willingness to pass on players due to injury, as he did with Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger in 2012 and Nerlens Noel last season. If the Magic do draft Embiid, they could allow him to sit out the entire season and get fully healthy and figure it all out later. 


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