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.
“The medicals with Embiid will be key,” one league source told SNY.tv.
Embiid has been recovering from a stress fracture in his back that kept him out of games after March 1. He did not participate in last week’s Chicago Pre-Draft Combine — neither did projected top-3 picks Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker — and his agent Arn Tellem may decide to only have Embiid meet or work out for particular teams. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported Tellem still must decide whether to send Embiid to Cleveland for a physical or an interview.
“Every team’s doctors will determine just how bad his injury is long term,” one NBA scout previously told SNY.tv.
A second source told SNY.tv that the Cavaliers have Embiid as the No. 1 option, with his former Kansas teammate Wiggins as 1A. The Cavs won the Draft Lottery on Tuesday night.
“I can bring my shot-blocking ability and I think I have a good offensive game and I will be able to get rebounds like I did in college,” Embiid said Tuesday night on ESPN when asked about potentially going No. 1.
The Cavs still must hire a head coach to replace the fired Mike Brown.
His replacement will take over a team featuring Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao and Anthony Bennett, who has been a disappointment so far as last year’s No. 1 pick.
“Whoever gets the job is going to be coming into a nice situation with some nice young players and then the No. 1 pick in the Draft,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas said on air Tuesday.
“Joel Embiid I think has to be the top option because of his talent and his upside as a player and the fact that I think he’s going to get better and better. So as a 7-footer to be able to do what he can do gives you a lot to look forward to. But you can go with Wiggins, you can go with Parker.”
Both Chad Ford of ESPN and DraftExpress.com have Wiggins going No. 1 to the Cavaliers. Ford has Embiid at No. 2 to the Milwaukee Bucks, while DraftExpress.com has the Cameroon native at No. 3 to the Philadelphia 76ers.
For the second time in three years, it’s possible one school could produce the top two picks in the draft. In 2012, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went 1-2.
“It’s competition [between us for the No. 1 pick], but it’s friendly competition,” Wiggins told ESPN. “We both have love for each other. If I don’t go No. 1, I hope he goes No. 1 so we’re all just a family here. We both hope to get No. 1 pick and hopefully wherever we go, we do a lot of damage wherever we’re at and have a successful career.”
The Cavs could use a small forward to replace the departed Luol Deng. If they end up selecting Wiggins, they will have taken back-to-back Canadians from the CIA Bounce AAU program.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.