You thought the 2014 NBA Draft was going to be an unpredictable and crazy affair before? We’re just getting started. With yesterday’s news that Joel Embiid will require surgery for a stress fracture in his foot, the 2014 NBA Draft board has turned into the world’s most difficult 60-piece puzzle. The stress fracture was discovered by Cleveland Cavaliers doctors, who were previously only concerned with inspecting Embiid’s back injury.
The back problems were enough to have some questioning Embiid’s value as the No. 1 overall pick, but the potential to cash in on the next Hakeem Olajuwon and his solid pre-draft workout had most buying into the hype. After this latest discovery, however, Embiid’s PR team has their work cut out for them. So how far can we expect Joel Embiid to fall?
The potential to be a game-changing center is still definitely there. He’s only been playing basketball for four years and has already made significant strides with his footwork and defensive prowess in the paint. But as ESPN’s Kevin Pelton detailed yesterday, the history of big men with stress fractures in their navicular bone isn’t very reassuring. Any time you mix a seven-footer with back and/or foot problems you’re rolling the dice, and teams will certainly weigh his potential superstardom with the possibility of him being the next Greg Oden/Sam Bowie/etc.
Here’s a look at why the teams with the top seven picks in the 2014 NBA Draft could bet the house on Embiid, why they might opt for a safer route and what the probability is they’ll take Embiid if he’s still on the board.