The 2014 NBA Draft class has been touted as one of the best in the past decade since last year, before many of the projected top picks had even stepped foot onto a college campus. With a class that boasts players like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, though, it’s not hard to understand why people were so high on this draft class.
In recent months, though, Wiggins’ teammate at Kansas, center Joel Embiid, has seen a meteoric rise in his draft stock. In fact, ESPN’s Chad Ford has Embiid going ahead of Wiggins as the first overall pick in his latest mock draft.
Coming out of Cameroon, Embiid was ranked as the sixth best college prospect last year by ESPN before signing with the Jayhawks. However, Embiid had only been playing basketball for about three years and the predominant belief was that he’d need a few years to develop.
As just a freshman, though, Embiid has come out and impressed everyone. With a solid and lengthy seven-foot frame, Embiid is a fantastic rebounder, a great rim-protector, and a solid offensive player with a fluid post-game.
Having said all of that, the hype-train with Embiid is a bit out of control at this point. While I recognize that there’s a ton of potential with him, I also realize that he’s not on the same level as a Wiggins or a Parker right now. He may have more upside and the league’s premium placed on quality big men boosts his value, but I’m not sure saying he’ll go ahead of his teammate and a couple other prospects is totally warranted at this point.
Let’s be clear, I’m not saying in any way that Embiid isn’t worth a high draft pick. For a guy with as little experience as he has in the game to be as skilled, fluid and smart as he’s shown he can be is remarkable. He’s every bit worth a top-five pick and his rise to being a top prospect is warranted. All that I’m saying is that it’s possible that we should pump the brakes just a tad when talking about his future, namely slowing down before saying that he’s going to be picked first overall.