2014 NBA Draft — Joel Embiid
SCHOOL: Kansas Jayhawks
WEIGHT: 240 LBS
NBA PLAYER COMPARISON: Hakeem Olajuwon
You can’t teach size, and Joel Embiid has that. But it’s not just his freakish stature that has NBA scouts salivating for the Kansas big man prior to the 2014 NBA Draft. Embiid is an above-average athlete, better than most centers in the NBA not named Dwight Howard. He can elevate with the best of them and can catch and finish over and/or through traffic.
He’s raw on the offensive end, but has improved so much over the course of the last year. So much so that he became a legitimate offensive post option for the Jayhawks late in the year. He’ll obviously need to get stronger, but that’ll come once he gets some professional strength and conditioning coaches in the association.
On the defensive side of the ball, Embiid will make an initial impact in protecting the goal. Embiid blocked 2.6 shots in 23 minutes per game at Kansas last season. To put that into perspective, Anthony Davis led the NBA in blocks per game this season with 2.8 in 35 minutes per game. Embiid’s blocks per 48 translates to a little more than 3.4. That’s not bad.
Naturally, with every great big man prospect there are going to be concerns. Especially when said big man is coming off a back injury that held him out of action during the latter point of his previous season.
However, a prospect like Embiid is very rare. 7-footers are somewhat of a lost art in the NBA — they are far and few in-between. If Embiid’s back checks out, there’s no reason why Embiid shouldn’t go No 1. He’s that good.
If Embiid is healthy, and continues to develop and there’s no reason to believe why he wouldn’t, he will have immediate impact for whichever teams takes a shot on the former Jayhawk.
There are a handful of prospects that come around every so often that are simply too good to pass up on, no matter what the risk. Embiid is one of those prospects.