Embiid's foot injury reopens No.1 pick debate

Embiid's foot injury reopens No.1 pick debate
June 19, 2014, 11:45 am
Share This Post
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Everything appeared set. With concerns over Joel Embiid's back injury disappearing, the Cleveland Cavaliers appeared poised to make the 7-foot Cameroon native and freshman center from the University of Kansas the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Now, one week away from the June 26th event, a fly has been thrown into the ointment. Now it's possible a team in the Wizards division could benefit from a changing of the draft board.

Embiid suffered a right foot injury during his draft evaluation process and is shutting down all workouts before draft day. ESPN reported the injury after speaking with Embiid's agent, Arn Tellem. An update on the injury is expected on Friday, though initial concerns are the skilled center suffered a broken foot. 

**We didn't have to wait until Friday for an update thanks to Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowksi

After previously working out for the Cavaliers, Embiid planned to meet with the Milwaukee Bucks later this week. The Bucks own the second overall pick followed by the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic.

With his shot blocking prowess and surprising low post moves considering he's only played a few years of organized basketball, Embiid seemingly moved past Kansas teammate Andrew Wiggins and Duke's Jabari Parker on most mock drafts. 

[RELATED: NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Eyeing the Wizards' second round pick]

However, Wiggins and Parker are also considered major talents. Cleveland wouldn't be mocked for taking either over Embiid. Same for the Bucks, who finished last season with the NBA's worst record. 

Unless the injury turns out to be of a catastrophic nature, it's hard imagining Embiid slipping past the 76ers at 3 or the Magic at 4. One reason Philly could look elsewhere, including a trade, is that the organization just waited a year for Nerlens Noel, a first-round pick in 2013, to return from a knee injury.

Should Embiid somehow slip to Orlando, everyone in the Southeast division should get nervous. The Magic already have a strong core of young talent led by Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris plus swingman Arron Afflalo. What they lack is a true centerpiece. Again, barring Embiid's inability to walk, he has the goods to be just that.

Before the injury, projections had Orlando looking at point guards Dante Exum (Australia) and Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) along with big man Noah Vonleh (Indiana).

Now the Magic could be looking at a player they never would have imagined being available. It's hard passing on a big man with franchise-altering potential. When they are big men with foot injuries, green lights are replaced by caution flags.