Everyone says this until the money is on the table.
Kansas center Joel Embiid is at or near the top of every team’s draft board — DraftExpress has him as the No. 1 pick overall right now — and as general managers survey the NBA and see the value of a big who can protect the paint, plus a guy with offensive potential, he’s not likely to slip outside the top three.
If he enters the draft.
Embiid has been consistent is saying he’s not sure he’s going to come out and enter the draft. The Cameroon native said it again to ESPN on Tuesday before his team took on Baylor.
Kansas 7-footer Joel Embiid told ESPN that he is far from a lock to leave college after this season, and is “strongly considering” returning for his sophomore campaign…
“I’m not even thinking about it right now,” Embiid said. “I’ll make a decision after the season, but I’m definitely considering coming back to school.”
First and foremost, Embiid should make the decision that is best for him personally. He has only been playing organized basketball for three years, he has talked about the entire experience being an adjustment. He clearly has a comfort level at Kansas and with Bill Self, and if he feels it is best for him as a person he should stay.
However, as noted above, a lot of players say they want to stay until the money is on the table. A lot of guys have said “I’m staying” after their team was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, only to recant that a week later. We’ll see how this plays out.
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Let me add two quick points. First, is that if Embiid comes out he would make a guaranteed $9.5 million in his first two seasons, plus he starts the clock sooner on the larger, second contract that often follows for No. 1 picks. When we talk about leaving money on the table, it’s not just the money Embiid would make in his rookie season, it is removing one year from his limited window to earn money as a professional basketball player. Tom Ziller laid argument out very well at SB Nation. (If he wants his degree, he can still get it. Shaquille O’Neal and a host of other players have finished getting their degrees while playing in the NBA.)
Second, the idea that “he needs another year to develop” is just a fallacy. If he enters the league his full-time job is to develop as a player. As a college student he has limits on practice hours (and hours he can practice with a coach), plus he plays in fewer games against inferior competition.
A lot of people confuse the impact a player could make in his rookie year with the speed of development — if Embiid stays in college a season he could make a bigger impact in the NBA his rookie year, but that is different than saying he will develop more as a player. Embiid has talked about his diet and wanting to improve it — NBA teams have entire programs set up around this, trainers who would get him on that path in a way college dorm food just cannot. If he were willing to put the work in, Embiid would develop more in the NBA (certainly some teams are better at developing players).
He needs to do what is best for him, what feels most comfortable to him. If that is to stay in Kansas, he should stay.
But don’t take what any player says right now about staying too seriously.