Joel Embiid is not going to fall very far in this draft — prior concerns about his back and current ones about the two screws in the navicular bone of his foot wisely scared the Cleveland Cavaliers off him at the No 1 slot, and Jabari Parker is all but locked at No. 2.
After that it’s wide open.
A number of teams are targeting him in the draft, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
The Sixers would prefer to move up and grab Andrew Wiggins in the top spot but if they can’t they could draft Embiid and would not be afraid to sit him an entire season — they just did it with Nerlens Noel. Yes, the Sixers would take Noel and Embiid, Philly is in asset acquisition mode, wants to get as many of the best players as they can, then worry about fit (or trading some of them).
The Celtics and Lakers are in the same boat in this sense — both are big brands in big markets with big fan bases, and both have money, meaning both could take the gamble on Embiid and if it didn’t pan out they recover with free agents they can recruit. The Lakers and Celtics can afford to misfire in the draft in a way that the Bucks or Jazz cannot. It’s just the reality of the market. The Lakers and Celtics could gamble on Embiid, they can absorb the risk (and both could let him sit a full season).
There are other teams to watch here — the Sacramento Kings, for one, want to trade up and get Embiid. They can offer the No. 8 pick and either future picks or players. They are not alone, you can bet the Magic and Jazz (picks four and five) are getting calls from teams who have interest in Embiid.
Bottom line, the Lakers may want him at No. 7 but he’s not going to be on the board at that point.