NBA Draft 2014: Don’t Touch Embiid Philadelphia


Let me throw some names at you…

Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, Steven Adams, Gorqui Dieng, Mason Plumlee, Meyers Leonard, Tyler Zeller, Fab Melo, Miles Plumlee, Festus Ezeli, Jonas Valanciunus, Ekpe Udoh, Cole Aldrich, Daniel Orton, Hasheem Thabeet, and Byron Mullens. Those are all centers that were chosen in the first round of the NBA Draft in the past five years.

How many All-Stars are on that list? Zero. How many average double-digit points? One in Jonas Valanciunus. How many of these players had a good amount of attention and high hopes for stardom coming into the NBA? All of them.

The three players that are left off of this list, that statistically have panned out are: Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, and DeMarcus Cousins. And for Davis, we can have an argument that he is not playing the center position in the NBA, but lets try to stay on focus of my point.

The reason that I am talking about all of these players is because I want to prove that year after year there is so much hype over centers that just do not pan out, and their talents on the college courts just do not transfer over to the NBA floor. And this year’s draft, more than ever, one player has been getting so much attention, and in my opinion over-the-top attention. That player is Joel Embiid.

Now, I know some of you are going to say that this story is pointless, due to the fact that the Sixers pick third, and that it would be very unlikely that Joel Embiid would still be on the board at three. But, how about you look at all of the mock drafts from last year, with the same team picking first, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The number of mock drafts that had Anthony Bennett picked at No. 1 last year is the same number of All-Stars from the list that was mentioned to you before. Zero.

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Nobody knows what the teams are thinking inside their green rooms, behind closed doors, in the comfort of their own homes. Not me, not you, not the experts, and nobody in between. You have to be prepared for whatever could happen, whether it be Joel Embiid picked at one, which some people have predicted, or whether it be Noah Vonleh picked at one, which nobody has predicted.

So everything that is being presented in this article is a WHAT-IF, not a prediction of what I think is going to happen.

With all of that being said, it would be the biggest mistake of the 76ers franchise history, if Joel Embiid was available at that third pick, or heaven forbid, if the 76ers traded up for Joel Embiid.

Mar 1, 2014; Stillwater, OK, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) grabs a rebound against Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Markel Brown (22) during the first half at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

There are so many reasons that I can pick out and talk about why he is going to be a mistake if taken in the first-round, let alone the first three picks. The biggest reason that the Sixers should not take Embiid is because he might have the biggest question mark around him, of any player, that I can remember being in the NBA Draft. He is so questionable that the 7-footer himself had this to say about the upcoming draft, and the fact that he was receiving so much attention,”I am not very good yet. Of all the great players a team could choose right now, I am probably not the best.

“I am not very good yet. Of all the great players a team could choose right now, I am probably not the best.”

He is literally a walking 7-foot question mark. Well obviously he is not literally a walking 7 foot question mark, but he is so questionable that he himself is not sold on his ability to be the best. I am not debating that he can not become a good player in this league, its just so hard nowadays with the way that the NBA is changing into a three-point, back and forth league. It becomes hard to play through the center, like you can in college, or like you used to do back in the day with Wilt, Russell, Kareem, Shaq, and those guys.

Embiid is so raw and it would take a lot of hard work just to be able to play in this league, not be a star, but play in this league. There are very few centers in this league that you would consider a star. Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, and DeAndre Jordan are the only names that really come to mind. Even some of those are borderline. Somebody that has been playing basketball for two years of his life is way to risky of a choice for the top three. I really hope that when that third pick comes around the Sixers choose either Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. If they are both not available Philly needs to think about Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, or Marcus Smart before taking Embiid.

Another reason that you have to be scared about taking Embiid is his back. He has already had two problems with his back before even stepping on an NBA floor and that should be a big red flag. It was a severe enough injury that it kept him from playing with his team in the March Madness Tournament and the Big 12 Tournament.

Feb 9, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) shoots the ball against Auburn Tigers center Rob Chubb (41) in the first half at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The final reason that it would be a mistake is that they have a better version of Joel Embiid, in Nerlens Noel. Even though Noel is no sure case to be a good player in this league. If you compare Embiid and Noel in each of their one seasons at Kansas and Kentucky respectively. Each player was plagued by an injury, Embiid with his bad back, and Noel tore his ACL toward the end of the season, which kept him out all of his first season with the Sixers. Embiid played 28 games, and Noel played 24, so keep that in mind. In four less games, Noel blocked 34 more shots than Embiid, and that is supposed to be one of Embiid’s big time talents. While Embiid averaged .6 more points per game, he averaged a rebound and half less than Noel. Embiid also averaged less steals and assists per game, while averaging more turnovers. All of this would point to Noel becoming a better NBA player than Embiid. However, Noel was chosen sixth by the Pelicans and later traded to the Sixers for Jrue Holiday. This is a better player than Embiid, and he was chosen sixth in a draft with much less talent.

The 76ers and anybody else should reevaluate what you think Embiid could do for your team. I’m not saying that he can not turn into something special, I just think it is very possible that he doesn’t and it could take too long of a time to mold him into that star that people think he can be. He has upside, he is seven feet tall, has thirty pounds on Noel, and is a quick learner. I just know that he is way to big of a question mark for the 76ers to take with the third pick in the THIS year’s NBA Draft.