Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Greg Anthony Says Joel Embiid Should Stay in School
NEW YORK — Joel Embiid is projected by many to be the top pick in the NBA Draft, but NBA analyst Greg Anthony believes the Kansas freshman should spend at least one more year on campus.
“The guy I would hope wouldn’t come out would be Embiid because I don’t think he’s ready, I don’t think he’s polished enough,” Anthony told SNY.tv Thursday night at Madison Square Garden where he was doing the Cavaliers-Knicks game.
“[His] instincts aren’t where you want them to be. At this level, they don’t teach, they coach.”
Both Chad Ford and DraftExpress.com have the 7-foot Embiid projected as the No. 1 pick — with both having his Kansas teammate Andrew Wiggins at No. 2 — meaning it would be very hard for Embiid to stay in school.
Sources close to the Kansas program believe that Embiid himself may prefer to stay in school, but the opportunity may be too great for him to pass up (which, in turn, could open things up for Myles Turner to pick Kansas).
But Anthony disagrees.
“There’s a lot of guys who would’ve been the No. 1 pick [who stayed],” the former Knick point guard said. “I played with a guy [Larry Johnson] who would’ve been the No. 1 pick as a junior, he didn’t come out. You don’t have to because what I tell a lot of these young kids is, this is not for your first contract, this is for your second and your third.
“Our league drafts potential, it doesn’t draft a polished, finished product. I think a lot of these kids are really, really good and really talented but a lot of them could use another year.”
Anthony said the same logic applies to fellow freshmen studs Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon.
“I would say that Jabari’s probably the most polished of all of them,” Anthony said. “And listen, it’s gonna be hard for them not to come out, I get that part. But it wouldn’t hurt any of them to come back to school.
“And listen, I’m a proponent of guys being able to come out of high school. I think these kids are more talented than the draft we had a year ago, but you want them to be a little bit more polished when they come here.
“You look at [Anthony] Bennett, you look at [Ben] McLemore, they weren’t all necessarily ready. Michael Carter-Williams had two years and didn’t play his freshman year. It’s not that some guys aren’t ready, it’s that some guys just need more time to refine their game to be ready to make an impact because remember all those guys are going to be going to teams that basically aren’t that good and they’re going to be expected to produce right away.”
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheimpreviously told SNY.tv that none of these freshmen are “transcendent” players the way LeBron James and Tim Duncan were, and Anthony agreed.
“In that respect, I don’t think the draft is as good as a lot of people are saying,” he said. “Look how good Kyrie Irving is, how many more games are they winning? And ultimately, that’s what you base it on is, can you come in and make my team better? Can we win because of you and that’s how I view it.”
Some teams, like the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, appear to be tanking and have two first-round picks, but Anthony said even multiple picks won’t transform those teams by themselves.
“Trust me, they can get three first-round picks next year, those kids aren’t going to come in and make that kind of a difference,” Anthony said. “Michael Carter-Williams is having a great year, how good is Philly?
“To Coach Boeheim’s point, those kids are not transcendent talents. You can come in and have statistics, but you’re not necessarily going to have an impact in determining who wins and who loses.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.