NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Kansas C Joel Embiid
|05.14.14 at 9:00 am ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.
Weight: 240 pounds
Key 2013-14 stats: 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks
Scouting report: No player in this draft has the potential to make such a monstrous impact on both ends of the floor as Embiid does. His ideal combination of size, length and instincts make him a dominant rebounder. Embiid averaged 14 boards per 40 minutes, leading this year’s crop of prospects, but he will be even better as he adds muscle to his frame.
Despite only playing organized basketball since 2011, the native of Cameroon has displayed an ability to quickly learn the game. It would not be a surprise if Embiid — who also averaged 4.5 blocks per 40 minutes (the second most of 2014 prospects) — pans out to be one of the best defensive big men in the league once he reaches his prime.
Embiid idolizes legendary big man Hakeem Olajuwon, already borrowing some of his moves on the post, including “The Dream Shake.” While it’s unfair to make that type of comparison for Embiid, it’s rare to see an inexperienced player with such a wide repertoire of post moves, including drop steps, jump hooks, face-ups, spins and other secondary counters.
Even though Kansas’ system rarely called for Embiid to shoot jumpers, he thrived in his limited opportunities, displaying smooth mechanics and a soft, natural touch. He must improve his mechanics — especially his follow through — but the building blocks are there for him to quickly develop into a reliable pick-and-pop mid-range shooting option, as well as a scorer down on the block.
At this point, Embiid might be underrated. After his back injury scare in March, many draft enthusiasts soured on Embiid’s stock, but from what we know, the injury was no big deal and it’s already in the past. With that said, the focus should be on Embiid’s skill as a basketball player until alarming medical reports are released, if ever. And if that’s the focus, then general managers are looking at a player who could potentially become one of the best bigs in the league.
How he fits: It’d be shocking if Embiid wasn’t at the top of the Celtics‘ draft board considering their desperate need for a rim protector and a go-to scorer. If Embiid reaches his sky-high potential, he’ll fill that void and then some more. There is a chance Embiid slips past the top three picks, but it’s hard to see him falling any further than that.
CBS Sports: Joel Embiid best center prospect in decade — but not a slam dunk?
ESPN: Kansas’ Joel Embiid a secret no more
Video: Here is a video of Embiid’s performance against Iowa State in 2014.