General manager Mitch Kupchak of the Los Angeles Lakers has hinted that the flailing franchise won’t necessarily be selecting a player who would make an immediate impact. Given this and the fact Joel Embiid‘s injury has him dropping further and further down mock drafts, it’s not far-fetched to think Embiid could be shaking Adam Silver‘s hand at the 2014 NBA Draft with a Lakers cap on come Thursday.
The 19-year-old from Cameroon screams Lakers. The franchise has a rich history of big men, and as seen with Andrew Bynum, the Lakers aren’t against drafting centers in the hope of developing them into stars some time in the future. Chances that Embiid is still on the board when the Lakers are on the clock at seven is unlikely, but if he is, it’s not going to take the Lakers draft room long to make their pick.
I want to live in LA so bad #beautiful
— Joel-Hans Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) March 9, 2014
Unless the Lakers can trade the pick for talent that makes them instant contenders, it’s likely they succumb to the fact that the 2014-15 season is a write-off, and time will be better spent developing the 7-foot-1 center out of Kansas.
Embiid shows early signs of greatness. His footwork has All-Star potential to go along with his already stellar defensive timing on the block. Embiid averaged 11.2 points on 62 percent shooting and 8.1 rebounds during his lone year in the NCAA. Those numbers on paper don’t cry future NBA superstar, but to those scouts sitting in the stands, they see the basketball instincts of a veteran despite not starting to play basketball until he was 16 years old.
The Lakers rarely have trouble scoring as a franchise, so his inexperience at that end of the floor can be made up in other areas. Even with a franchise worst 27-55 record last season, the Lakers still managed 103 points per game, and that was good for 11th in the league. Defense was the problem, and if Embiid can recover from his foot injury, he can make an immediate impact on that end of the floor.
There are teams above the Lakers that are a good possibility of landing the injured Embiid, but with some mock drafts having him as far down as ninth, the Lakers will be planning for him being on the board. In the likely event he isn’t available, the Lakers will select Julius Randle. NBA ready and having blown off a workout with the Boston Celtics, it appears as though he is the most likely to go at seven.