There is genuine concern around the league about Kansas center Joel Embiid’s back heading into the June 26 NBA draft.

Lesser injuries have caused players to plummet in a draft.
Ryan Blake, NBA director of scouting, said in a telephone interview on May 23 that Embiid’s back concerned him.

“Of course, it does,” he said. “He hurt it in high school. But it may not be (a problem).”

Embiid is represented by agent Arn Tellem. His camp is trying to get the word out that he’s now completely healed from the stress fracture that plagued him during his freshman year at Kansas. A recent workout in Santa Monica left onlookers in awe.

The Cavaliers, who earned the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft lottery on May 20, will have Embiid’s back checked out thoroughly by their own medical team.

With Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller under contract for next year, the center position is not a pressing need. However, Embiid is a major talent who could develop into a franchise center.

When discussing the 7-foot, 250-pounder, one name comes to mind: Brad Daugherty. The former Cavs center was a magnificent talent. However, his NBA career was curtailed with a back injury. That’s why many people should be wary of Embiid.

Blake said his late father, Marty, used to say franchise centers come along once every 20 years.

“Embiid is not a Tim Duncan,” Blake said. “He’s not a Shaq. He’s not a Dwight Howard. He is a quality kid who could be Serge Ibaka. He has that ability.”

The good news is if the Cavs decide to pass on Embiid, they have viable options in Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins and Duke small forward Jabari Parker.

“If there are any questions whatsoever (on Embiid), you have either Wiggins or Parker, if you like them,” Blake said.

“This is a tough one. They need a perimeter threat. They also need a center. (Cavs General Manager) Dave Griffin will be great for this organization. He’s going to listen to all these offers.”