#NBA’s Top 5 Draft Prospects Part 5: Kansas’ Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is still a top five prospect for the upcoming NBA draft, even with his recent back injury. Let’s take a look at Embiid’s body of work in his freshman season.
He publicly said he won’t go to the draft because he loves Kansas, but that could change if the NBA comes calling. But his recent back problems which have kept him out of the Big 12 conference tournament could worry NBA scouts as well as fans. He had a spinal stress fracture in his back, and this could keep him back in college one more year (unless it becomes more serious).
But, Embiid could pull a Nerlens Noel and come out even with a significant injury history, although Noel tore his ACL and everyone knew he’d sit out most if not all the season (update: Noel could come back to play for the tanking Philadelphia 76ers this season, per ESPN.com).
Still, I hope he gets well and gets the rest and rehab that he needs.
However, you can’t ignore Embiid. I personally like him a lot more than Wiggins, which is why I would have him above Wiggins if he wasn’t injured. Embiid’s post moves are polished and smooth, which is rare for a budding basketball player and first-timer. Here’s a short highlight video of his performance against Toledo:
As you can see, he has a variety of post moves and did set screens to get shooters free. He’s a complete package as a post player.
Before his injury, Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and an eye-dropping 2.6 blocks in 23 minutes of play. That’s impressive because in mid-January, he led the nation in block percentage as ESPN blogger Eamonn Brennan wrote.
In Big 12 conference play, Embiid averaged 11.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game (all stats from Sports-Reference.com). How about some blocks for fun? Here’s Embiid blocking Georgetown’s Aaron Bowen:
As basketball analysts Jay Bilas said in the video clip, “That is a meeting at the summit.” That is a great block and that is what NBA teams love to see.
Also, his shooting percentage is high at an astounding 62.6%, which is great because it means he won’t waste shots in the college level and could translate better to the NBA. To put that in perspective, pure shooters can’t shoot that well. Doug McDermott, for example, shoots 52% from the field and he is one of the best shooters in college, if not the best. But, post players always have higher percentages because they play closer to the rim. Still, that’s really impressive.
But, Embiid’s back injury is worrisome and I wish the best for him. I still think he should leave for the NBA when the season is over and maybe take time to prepare for the draft instead of playing in March Madness.