BOSTON (CBS) — Since Joel Embiid went under the knife last week for a fracture in his foot, the once-top prospect has watched his NBA draft stock fall from first overall to somewhere in the mid-lottery.
For a while, the 7-footer out of Kansas was the favorite to go first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Thursday’s draft. Now it’s feared he could miss up to six months of his rookie season, and with a back injury plaguing his only season with the Jayhawks, his brief injury history is starting to scare away teams with a Top 10 pick.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix joined The Adam Jones Show on Monday morning, and while Embiid’s stock is dropping, Mannix doesn’t think it will be a very drastic drop.
“Most think he’s going to wind up in that four-to-six range. One possibility remains in the top three; the only team I can see taking him is Milwaukee,” Mannix said, noting that the Bucks’ new owners rebuild “distressed assets” in the financial world. “If they’re not concerned winning this year, and maybe they’re not after just buying the team, keep them in mind.”
The Philadelphia 76ers own both the third and 10th overall picks and could be a landing spot for Embiid, but Mannix thinks it’s more likely he goes just after Philly’s first pick.
“Orlando is there [with the fourth pick]; they have a general manager who is comfortable in his position and in a rebuilding effort. Utah (who own the fifth pick) is in that same position with big men in that front court anyways, so they wouldn’t need him to play right away,” said Mannix.
And that leaves the Boston Celtics, who with the sixth and 17th overall picks in the first round, could make a lot of sense for a rebuilding Celtics franchise if they cannot land Kevin Love via trade.
“Most agree that, regardless of the situation, Joel Embiid is a Danny Ainge kind of pick: A maverick, take a chance on a guy who is a little banged up for the long-term reward that he could reap,” said Mannix.
However, Mannix does not have the Celtics picking Embiid in his final mock draft.
“I’m riding or dying with Aaron Gordon,” he said of the Arizona prospect. “Gordon fits in to what the Celtics like. I don’t know what position he plays long-term, but defensively he’s a monster, rebounding he’s a monster. Offensively he is sort of a blank canvas, but he’s the youngest player in the draft and there’s a lot of upside to him.
“For an ownership who has made it clear they have no problem being involved in a long-term rebuilding process, meaning they have no problem stinking next year, Gordon is that type of guy with a huge, huge upside,” Mannix said.
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