The June 26 NBA Draft was already shaping up to be one of the most dramatic in recent memory, and the latest news only heightens the anticipation. Joel Embiid, the projected #1 selection, is undergoing surgery to repair a broken foot. He’s already been diagnosed with a back problem, so the assumption is he will drop from the marquee slot to perhaps #4. All of the mock drafts are frantically being redrawn, in concert with the usual adjusting which occurs following individual workouts (Elfrid Payton and Doug McDermott are now in the mid-teens…that’s serious zooming) and the Draft Combine.
Our concern is with the Toronto Raptors’ #20 selection. Does the ascension of Andrew Wiggins to the #1 selection have implications for our team? After all, Embiid will still command a Top-4 pick; we’re just shuffling the deck at the top, aren’t we?
I can’t believe that Philadelphia is really going to draft 7 players (2 first-rounders, 5 second-). Rumours were floating that Cleveland’s #1 selection was being floated as trade bait. Cavaliers management may not be as enthralled with Wiggins as others are, and the downgrade of Embiid may be sufficient to cause them to pull the trigger on a trade. The 76ers’ love for Wiggins has been evident for some time, so let’s propose a trade: Philly’s #3, their two highest second-rounders (32 & 39), plus Thaddeus Young for Cleveland’s #1. Cleveland General Manager David Griffin will demand Philly’s #10 selection in lieu of everything else, but 76ers’ GM Sam Hinkie will push back, hard. Embiid may fall into Cleveland’s lap at #3 anyway, but I can’t imagine they would take the chance of purchasing damaged goods when pristine choices (Julius Randle, Dante Exum) are available. Cleveland has just signed a new coach, David Blatt, who presumably would like every opportunity to make an immediate impact. If I were Blatt, I certainly wouldn’t want my early-first-round draft pick sitting on the bench in street clothes and a foot cast during my inaugural season at the helm.
[20-second timeout: As I'm writing, a tweet arrives to the effect that the Utah Jazz are offering the#5 pick and PF Derrick Favors to Cleveland for #1. The Jazz are supposedly in love with Duke swingman Jabari Parker, who won't be around at #5. That deal makes a lot of sense for the Cavs. They can use the #5 on a guard like Marcus Smart or Dante Exum, as they won't need any further help in the front court.]
Let me apologize for the crazy-long tangent, and wrap this up. There are myriad wheels within wheels spinning prior to this Draft, and one blockbuster trade may be all that’s need to get the deal action exploding. Predictions aren’t worth much in such a volatile situation, but I’ll make one anyway. If Raps’ GM Masai Ujiri’s strongest leftovers (T.J. Warren, K.J. McDaniels, Adreian Payne) are gone at #20, watch for him to make a surprise pick. Clint Capela is a giant young European. We struck gold on our last one of those with Jonas Valanciunas. Masai might be happy to pick Capela and stash him overseas to gain floor experience he won’t get with our team, and bulk up.
We certainly aren’t done with Draft discussions. It’s time to hear from you, Rapture Nation. Does the Embiid injury have implications for us I’ve haven’t considered? Please let us know in the Comments.