The NBA Draft is right around the corner, and that can only mean one thing. The lives of these young men and their soon to be employers are going to change. Just a few days ago everything seemed to be virtually set in stone. The “big three” of this draft was all but a lock to every basketball fan. Jabari Parker of Duke and Kansas teammates Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid were the consensus top 3 picks on draft night.
However, with Embiid suffering a stress fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot, things now seem clouded. This draft is one that is loaded with talent, but the injury to Embiid has changed the entire landscape of the draft.
The Los Angeles Lakers sit at spot No. 7. This draft pool of talent should land the Lakers a good prospect that can have an immediate impact on the team.
With the injury to Embiid, he could very well fall right into the lap of the Lakers at slot seven. With the decline of the traditional big man, Embiid shows that once-in-a-decade kind of promise. The big man from Kansas checks in at 7-feet, 240 pounds, playing just 28 games in college. Embiid averaged 11.2 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game and 2.8 blocks per game in just under 24 minutes in each participated contest.
These numbers seem promising, especially when you take into account how many shots he alters and his overall impact on the court with his size. He is a good rim runner, with a great touch around the rim. Many are comparing his ceiling to the likes of legendary big man, Hakeem Olajuwon.
A dark cloud does hover over Embiid. as a player, he has been riddled with injuries in his short career. He missed the entire NCAA tournament with a back injury, which has held up in pre draft workouts. His most recent injury could slide him down the draft board to the Lakers.
The foot injury has troubled other notable big men that have played in the NBA. Big men Yao Ming and Memphis Grizzlies‘ Zach Randolph both suffered from the same injury. Yao had a lot of wear and tear on his body, and could never bounce back to being completely healthy. Randolph has been healthy post surgery, putting up very respectable numbers.
Do the Lakers really want to roll the dice on a big man like Embiid who has a shaky back and a nagging foot injury? Are the Lakers comfortable with the possibility that Embiid could in fact be trouble with injuries for most of his NBA career?
The much safer pick should be Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart. Smart would provide an immediate impact for the Lakers. Smart is a tenacious defender that will bring grit, heart, youth and some much needed athleticism to the Lakers backcourt. Although Smart had some off court issues, he is not a injury riddled player like Embiid.
If Embiid slides all the way to seven, the Lakers should turn their cheek and draft Smart, or at least a player who will be able to contribute with no questions about health.