The doubts around Joel Embiid had begun to grow. Back in March it was announced that the young center, who had begun to start drawing Hakeem Olajuwon comparisons, had suffered a stress fracture in his back. Injuries are a setback back for any player but when it comes to big men they tend to raise all sorts of red flags.
The rigours of hauling a seven-foot frame up and down a basketball court often take their toll on backs and knees and a cursory glance through NBA history offers up plenty of examples of promising young big men who have had their careers ruined by injury. From Jermaine O'Neal to Greg Oden to Andrew Bynum, the danger signs are there for any franchises interested in Joel Embiid.
These injury worries had been hurting Embiid’s draft stock ever since he was forced to sit out of the NCAA tournament.
However, a recent workout in Santa Monica, with many influential NBA figures present, Embiid put on a seriously impressive display of athleticism and skill.
After watching the workout Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that it was “impossible to imagine passing on him at No. 1”, while ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote that there was “no evidence of back issues”. Indeed, these seem to be the sentiments shared by all those in attendance and it seems as though Embiid may have re-claimed his place at the top of every team’s draft board.
The re-confirmation of Embiid’s talent and potential will be sure to have intriguing effects on the landscape of potential trades. Cleveland have already confirmed their willingness to deal the top pick of the draft should it allow them to get better quickly.
With Embiid projecting as a franchise center, teams that are looking for a long-term rebuilding strategy may be willing to throw some serious offers at Cleveland in hope of acquiring Embiid.