Even in what appears to be the deepest draft class to come along in quite some time, Joel Embiid had emerged as the favorite to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick before a back injury he sustained began to cloud those opinions.
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum are all talented and intriguing prospects, but Embiid’s combination of size and skill set had vaulted him to the top of most lists.
The Clippers hosted a group workout in Los Angeles that was well-attended by scouts and NBA personnel from the bulk of the league’s teams, and Embiid was among the participants. Reports were largely unanimous that he looked solid, and reclaimed the status of No. 1 pick in most observers’ eyes.
From Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (via Basketball Insiders):
“I did not see any issues with his back,” one veteran NBA scout on hand at the workout told SNY.tv. “He looked very agile and athletic.”
“He looks great,” a second scout said. “Running, jumping, dunking, bent up like a pretzel in warmups and stretching exercises. Had two ex-NBA bigs [Brian Scalabrine and Will Perdue] banging on him underneath. He passed the eyeball test big time. Move him up.
“He helped himself today.”
From Chad Ford of ESPN.com:
Embiid quickly re-asserting claim to # 1 pick here. Added muscle, still has quick feet & a beautiful jumper. No evidence of back issues. Just spoke with Embiid. Told me his back is 100 percent. Been working out hard for last 3 weeks. Embiid said he’s gained 15 pounds. Up to 265. Still getting back into shape. Got a bit winded in workout but still looked quick & explosive.
From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Watching Joel Embiid in workout for league executives in Santa Monica. Impossible to imagine passing on him at No. 1.
The Cavaliers have the top pick in the draft, and GM David Griffin said after winning the Draft Lottery that there was no clear-cut No. 1 pick in his mind. If Cleveland decides to go in an unconventional direction as it did by selecting Anthony Bennett with the top pick last year, there would be value in dealing the pick this time, considering what’s now becoming a consensus that Embiid is too good to pass up.