It's that time of the year again -- all your favorite writers get to live out their dreams of running NBA franchises! Since we have to wait another month until Sam Hinkie finds a way to acquire every 2014 second round pick, we'll get drunk with power and pretend to determine the futures of all 30 teams in the meantime. That may or may not involve forcing Andrew Wiggins to the Sixers, because this is our draft, dammit.
First up on the clock are the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have inexplicably been #blessed by the Lottery Gods for a third time in four years. I'm sure eventually Lady Luck will turn her back on Dan Gilbert, but for now we are all just living in his Comic Sans transcribed world.
Despite a well-publicized stress fracture that kept him out of the NCAA's postseason festivities, Joel Embiid's package of size and athleticism would be hard for any team to pass up. Due to limited minutes the raw production wasn't eye-popping at Kansas, but you just don't find people Embiid's size that can move so quickly and fluidly. Wiggins is an extraordinary athlete, but in comparison to his peers on the wing, he's not quite as much of an outlier as the seven-footer from Cameroon.
It's worth noting that he only picked up the game of basketball a few years ago, quickly applying skills learned playing soccer and volleyball as a child. The volleyball background can be a slight detriment at times -- he tends to want to block EVERYTHING -- but boy oh boy, the footwork is pretty. He's years behind his peers from a pure basketball perspective, but still managed to turn in one of the most efficient campaigns in the country.
Fear The Sword's Sam Vecenie is a big fan of Embiid's, but he's a little more hesitant about the back issue:
This is what it comes down to for Embiid: if the back issues are not recurring and he gets a completely clean bill of health, he's the best prospect in this draft. He is a behemoth that moves with the fluidity of a small forward while being the size of Andrew Bynum.
I'm not a doctor, I have no idea what his problems are or how bad they are. So simply due to risk aversion, I have him third. If he ends up with a totally clean bill of health, then by all means I'll slide him up the board in future big boards.
Sam's concerns are valid. This selection will surely be contingent on Embiid clearing the requisite medical hurdles, though personally that feels way overblown based on what we know. The Oden/Durant draft lingers in the back of a lot of minds -- as does the Bowie/Jordan decision, 30 years later -- but using those outcomes to justify passing on Embiid would be silly.
Should an investigation by team doctors produce red flags, this is a different story. But as I'm only pretending, I get to act like Embiid has adamantium pulsing through his veins. Basketball is a sport whose goal sits 10 feet off the ground, and sometimes drafting is as simple as taking the largest, most athletic guy you can find. Embiid is it. Give me a core of Kyrie Irving and Embiid and we'll figure out the rest from there.
So that's Cleveland taking Joel Embiid at #1. Tomorrow, Derek makes his selection for the Milwaukee Bucks.