If Joel Embiid’s back checks out, reports say he will likely be the No. 1 pick in next month’s NBA Draft. But the Cleveland Cavaliers are skeptical about the health of the Kansas center’s back, to the point that he no longer tops the team’s draft board, and that the team is preparing to draft Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins or Duke forward Jabari Parker. Via Fox Sports Ohio:
Despite a recent national report, Kansas center Joel Embiid does not top the Cavs’ list of prospects, sources said. Embiid suffered through some well-documented back issues in his one year of college, and one source said the Cavs therefore have him “red-flagged.”
Embiid will need to undergo an extensive physical by the Cavs, sources said. In other words, the Cavs will not rely on an independent evaluation, such as the one being offered by Embiid’s camp.
New general manager David Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert have both indicated if there is any question about a player’s present or long-term health, the Cavs will take a pass on the prospect in the draft. They appear to be handling the Embiid situation similarly to how they approached their pre-draft assessment of center Nerlens Noel last summer.
Noel was considered a possibility for the top overall pick (which the Cavs also owned) in 2013. But he wound up sliding to the sixth pick as a result of concerns over his injury. Noel’s knee caused him to miss his entire rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
With Embiid suddenly a major question mark, the Cavs have likely narrowed their early possibilities at No. 1 to Duke forward Jabari Parker and Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins. Sources cautioned, however, that Embiid has not been entirely ruled out.
According to sources, the Cavs feel Parker is the most NBA-ready player in the draft, and that he will be a much better pro than collegian.
That said, the Cavs are also supposedly very high on Wiggins. Not surprisingly, they are said to believe he has the potential to be an explosive scorer at the next level. They are also impressed with his length and athleticism, particularly when it comes to defending the all-important wing spots.