BOSTON (CBS) — Joel Embiid will undergo surgery for a stress fracture in his right foot on Friday, and his draft stock has been plummeting since the news broke on Thursday.
A fracture in his navicular bone was discovered as he worked out with the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, who were projected to take the Kansas big-man first overall at next Thursday’s NBA Draft. But the navicular bone takes awhile to heal, and it can be a recurring injury throughout a player’s career.
With this newest red flag, in addition to previous back issues, could Embiid still be on the board when the Boston Celtics come up to pick with the sixth overall pick? It’s very possible, but should the Celtics even consider drafting a player who has only played basketball for two years and has a history of injuries?
If the Celtics are willing to go through another rebuilding season, 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Jon Wallach thinks it’s worth the risk.
“If you’re rebuilding, you can afford to wait a year. I understand there are a lot of red flags, but every single good team has a premiere shot blocker,” Wallach said on Friday’s Toucher and Rich. “If you are rebuilding, Joel Embiid — from everything I’m reading — before he hurt his foot he wowed everyone at these workouts. I understand the back is a red flag, but this kind of athlete, this kind of shot blocker, doesn’t come along too much. If you have time to wait, you wait. You take that guy.
“It’s too big of an opportunity not to pass it by,” said Wallach. “Last year, Nerlens Noel, a shot blocker from Kentucky, blew up his knee and everyone in that first round knew he wasn’t going to play last season. He was supposed to go number one overall, but Philadelphia, because they’re rebuilding (took him at six). They’re waiting on him, and now they’ll have him along with a guy like Dante Exum and Michael Carter-Williams, and that’s going to be a pretty good three in a few years.”
If they take a recovering Embiid, who will be out anywhere from four weeks to four months, the Celtics would be passing on a talent like Marcus Smart, who could make an immediate impact in Boston. But Wallach says Embiid, even if he has to sit out part of his rookie season, would fill a big hole on the Celtics roster.
“The Celtics have a glaring need for a guy like this. All of their centers and big people are jump shooters,” he noted. “If you can get me a 6-11 shot blocker, if I have to wait a year for that, I’m fine with it.”
The Celtics would like to return to the playoffs next season, but if they cannot land Kevin Love or another star this off-season, they may have no choice but to start from the bottom. Wallach says taking Embiid would give them a good foundation to do so.
“From all that we understand, the Celtics don’t want to wait and want be better next year. But I also think they’re flexible with their plan,” said Wallach. “If they do all they can to get Kevin Love and can’t get him, and Danny Ainge isn’t able to work any magic before draft day, you take this kid.”
What would drafting Embiid mean for the future of Rajon Rondo? Toucher & Rich and Wallach touch on that as well. Listen to the full podcast below: