Joel Embiid looks good. And healthy. That seems to be the consensus. A stress fracture in his back caused the Kansas center to miss the back end of the college basketball season. If certain people were worried about it a few months ago, their concerns were evidently assuaged with a series of pre-draft sessions in California. Chad Ford raved about Embiid after watching him work out in Santa Monica. So did Bill Simmons. Adrian Wojnarowski was so impressed that he said it’s “impossible to imagine passing on him at No. 1.” Here’s a video mashup from one of the workouts. Embiid dunks a lot, mainly on no one at all. Even so, there he is -- on a basketball court doing basketball things, which is better than lying on a trainer’s table covered in Icy Hot. Barring another massive Anthony Bennett-esque surprise from the Cavaliers (and that’s improbable considering they installed a new general manager who gets full marks from hoops heads for knowing what he’s doing), there are only two guys who are likely to get selected with that No. 1 overall pick: Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. After that, the remaining players could fall in countless ways. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll pretend that Wiggins goes first and someone else (say, Jabari Parker) goes second. What might the Sixers do in that scenario? Would they take Embiid with the third pick? We recently wondered how Michael Carter-Williams and Dante Exum might fit together (see story). If Embiid is available with the third pick -- and that's a big if -- there will be similar questions about overlap and fit because of Nerlens Noel. The Sixers shouldn't let that bother them. Embiid has too much ability and potential to pass up. Noel, who is coming off an ACL injury, recently said he’s fully healthy and plans to make his professional debut in the Orlando summer league. It will be the first time he’s played competitive, high-level (relative term) basketball in well over a year. In less than a season at Kentucky, Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals. Noel accounted for 62.7 percent of the Wildcats’ blocks that year and 25 percent of their rebounds. He had a 27.7 player efficiency rating (PER). Noel is well-regarded as a defender and rebounder and is expected to be a top-tier rim protector. His offensive game is less certain. Noel shot 59 percent from the field, almost all of which were taken from close range. He made just 52.9 percent of his free throws, and this season, while rehabbing his injury, the Sixers’ coaching staff helped him totally rebuild his shot.
Analyzing how Joel Embiid could fit with the Sixers
CSN Philly | May 28