NBA fans are very aware of the awe-inspiring athleticism and raw potential of Kansas wing Andrew Wiggins, but it’s Jawhawks center Joel Embiid who’s climbing up draft boards, according to Jeff Goodman of ESPN Insider. Goodman writes that he began wondering in the first half against Colorado whether the 7′ Cameroon native is a potential No. 1 overall pick. NBA scouts, he writes, were wondering the same thing.
“If he ain’t the first pick, he’s the second,” one high-ranking NBA executive in attendance told me.
Embiid finished the game against Colorado with 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and a block off the bench. Through eight games, Embiid is earning just 18.9 minutes per game, but he’s producing at such an incredible rate in those limited minutes that he has NBA draft writers, like Goodman and Chad Ford, drooling.
Per 40 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference, Embiid is averaging 19.6 points, 14 rebounds and 4.5 blocks on 65.9 percent shooting from the floor. He possesses a rare combination of post moves, size and skill and he’s still very new to the sport of basketball.
But he’s also averaging 7.7 fouls per 40 minutes. That, of course, is 2.7 more than college basketball rules allow and nearly two more than what is allowed in the NBA. Some scouts told Goodman that Embiid isn’t quite ready yet for the No. 1 spot.
“I don’t think he is in the mix for the No. 1 pick — yet,” he added. “But he can be if he keeps getting better. He’s top-five for sure.”
Top-five, though, isn’t too shabby for a guy who picked up the sport only three or four years ago. It’s even more impressive when you consider the competition atop most draft boards.
Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kentucky’s Julius Randle have gotten the most talk for no. 1 overall pick, but Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart is also in the mix. Dante Exum, a 6’6 Australian point guard, has garnished a lot of attention and Arizona’s freshman Aaron Gordon is also a top prospect.
Being included in that group means Embiid is special and scouts wondering if he’s the best of all of them is truly a testament to his upside.
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