If you listen closely, you can actually hear the dozens of people jumping off Joel Embiid’s bandwagon. And after yesterday’s news that the Kansas big man had suffered a stress fracture in his right foot that requires surgery, there are probably a few NBA GM’s jumping off as well.
One anonymous NBA GM even went as far to say that “you can’t use a top five pick on him.” Him being Embiid, of course.
“I think there is a point at which you use a pick on him, where you’re hoping maybe these are just fluke things that are not going to be recurring,” one general manager told Sporting News. “But that point is not in the Top 5 or so. You can’t use a Top 5 pick. I think there are too many other good options there to think about using the pick on one who has these injury problems.”
It’s easy to see how this one injury will lead to a failed career for Embiid. It’s been that way when big man enter the NBA will a pre-existing injury, or injuries, and it’s happened to big men when they’re perfectly healthy as they enter the league.
But as soon as an injury pops up, especially for big men, we jump to the Greg Oden conclusion — that he’ll never recover.
That probably isn’t fair. In fact, it’s not.
But the glaring similarities to the injuries of other historically promising big men are.
The same injury that Embiid suffered (a fracture in the navicular bone) is the same one that ended Bill Walton‘s and Greg Oden’s careers. That can’t be good.
However, who’s to say that it’ll end or derail Embiid’s?
For all we know, this stress fracture could just be the lone bump in the road on the way to a great career for Embiid. Remember when Blake Griffin‘s broken knee cap was going to be the first of many lower leg injuries for Griffin? How it was the beginning of the end for him? Yea, not so much.
So, yes. Go ahead and compare him to the Greg Oden’s and the Yao Ming‘s of the world. But some GMs won’t hold Embiid to the downfalls of history.
Let him be him.
He may not be worth a top-five pick in next week’s draft, but he’s worth a pick to somebody. In five, or 10 years, it won’t matter if he was the No. 1 pick or the No. 60th pick in next week’s draft.
Today, though, it does.