Even when things go right for the Cleveland Cavaliers, things still seem to go wrong somehow. After weeks of speculation that Joel Embiid was the likely top selection for Cleveland (assuming the medical report checked out on his previously injured back), a statement from his agent yesterday says that Embiid will undergo surgery today to repair a fracture in his right foot.
Embiid remains a tantilizing prospect. A 7’0″ center with the ability to be a key player on both defense and offense is something every team could use. But the injuries are now starting to pile up, and if the Cavaliers weren’t worried before about Embiid’s health, they most assuredly are now.
First, there were the injuries he suffered during his one year at Kansas: a sprained knee and a spinal stress fracture. Both of these injuries are in and of themselves enough to cause worry, but this most recent injury may be the most concerning of all. Specifically, Embiid has a stress fracture in the navicular bone in his right foot, the same injury that effectively ended Yao Ming‘s spectacular NBA career, and impacted plenty of other players as well.
This is really bad for Joel Embiid. Yao Ming’s issues were with his navicular bone. That’s where Embiid’s stress fracture is.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 19, 2014
Simply put, a body the size of Embiid’s is not built to sustain the daily pounding of a basketball court…and that becomes even more worrisome when there’s already a history of injuries. Wear and tear is a serious issue for any basketball player, but what makes it even scarier in the case of Embiid is the minimal game action that he has seen. Embiid started playing basketball just four years ago after having been discovered playing volleyball. Just four years (the most recent of which was limited due to injury) of basketball and his body is already showing significant signs of damage.
The Cavaliers can’t afford the risk of drafting Embiid. For a team that seems so short on luck, one can’t help but think that what they have is running out, and it may be decades before they again have the opportunity to draft at the top.
So what does this mean for Cleveland’s options in the draft? The easier question to answer is how this news impacts Embiid…but the impact for the Cavaliers? This news opens and closes different doors.
All season long Embiid, Parker and Wiggins have been the consensus top three picks. Now it’s down to a top two, both adding and taking away potential trade options. Teams a little further down in the draft are now more likely to get a top prospect (albeit an injured one); while Philadelphia has a desperate desire to add Andrew Wiggins, and picking third now almost guarantees that he will already be selected…unless they can trade up.
And that’s a big reason why the Cavaliers are beginning to search through other possibilities.
As Jeff Goodman reports, Joel Embiid suffered a foot injury. Cavs want to workout Dante Exum for No. 1 spot now too, sources tell Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 19, 2014
Exum could be considered as an outside chance at the top pick (another Anthony Bennett type shocker?), or a potential trade down target for Cleveland.
But no matter what happens, with less than a week to go before the NBA Draft, it certainly feels like life for the Cavaliers just got a lot more complicated.