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Stock Watch: Wiggins favorite to go No. 1 after Embiid's latest injury

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For months, all interested parties assumed Kansas University basketball products Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, as well as Duke's Jabari Parker, would go in the top three picks of the 2014 NBA Draft.

Late last week, serious doubt surrounding that theory appeared out of nowhere with the news that 7-foot Embiid had a stress fracture in the navicular bone on his right foot, which required surgery and at least four to six months of basketball-less recovery.

Now the center whose name many began pencilling in as Cleveland's choice at No. 1 could drop out of the top three, and some have suggested Embiid could fall as far as the bottom half of the top 10.

The fall of Embiid actually helps his KU teammate Wiggins, who could be Cleveland's new favorite choice, given Embiid's back and foot injuries during the past year.

In the Consensus Mock Draft put together by NBA.com's Drew Packham, Wiggins goes No. 1 to the Cavaliers, and Embiid falls to No. 3 and Philadelphia.

Using Packham's hub of mock drafts, as well as a couple others, we can see that Wiggins is a popular choice for Cleveland, but predictions regarding Embiid vary quite a bit more.

Andrew
Wiggins
Joel
Embiid
DraftExpress.com 1st 4th
MyNBADraft.com 2nd 4th
NBADraft.net
1st 3rd
DraftSite.com 1st 3rd
NBA.com 2nd 6th
ESPN.com 2nd 6th
SportsIllustrated.com (*posted June 18) *2nd *1st
SportingNews.com 1st 6th
SheridanHoops.com 1st 4th
NBADraftInsider.com 1st 6th
NetScoutsBasketball.com (*posted May 23) *2nd *1st
BleacherReport.com 3rd 6th
FoxSports.com (*posted June 16) *2nd *1st
CBSSports.com 1st 3rd

The clock is ticking in NBA front offices, and we can stop worrying about mock-ups come Thursday night, in Brooklyn, New York. Until then, here is the latest on the Jayhawks' stock.


Joel Embiid

Kansas center Joel Embiid wrestles for the ball with San Diego State forward JJ O'Brien during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid wrestles for the ball with San Diego State forward JJ O'Brien during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Fr., C, 7-foot, 250 pounds; from Yaounde, Cameroon

(All information uses only mock drafts posted since news of Embiid's foot injury)

Stock assessment: It seemed as recent as a week ago people were willing to look past Embiid's back injury, which kept him out of postseason games at Kansas. Now that his navicular bone is in the early stages of a lengthy healing process, his longterm health is under far more scrutiny. With multiple debilitating injuries popping up in the past six months alone, some NBA executives could be scared of wasting a high draft pick on a player who could spend more time on the injured list than the court.

Average mock draft position: 5th

Current high: 3rd (in three mock drafts)

Current low: 6th (in five mock drafts)

Overall movement: Falling — Embiid's seemingly limitless ceiling appeared to make him too good to pass up on at No. 1. His footwork, athleticism and ability to protect the paint made him the most coveted commodity to enter the NBA Draft since Kentucky big man Anthony Davis went No. 1 to New Orleans two years ago. Now the graceful (when healthy) big man is listed by oddsmakers at Bovada as the third-most likely No. 1 pick (12 to 1 odds) on Thursday, behind favorite Wiggins (1 to 2) and Parker (7 to 5). Soon we'll know which NBA franchise is willing to gamble on Embiid, and trust he can still have a prosperous career in the league.


Andrew Wiggins

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins celebrates after delivering on a breakaway dunk against Kansas State during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins celebrates after delivering on a breakaway dunk against Kansas State during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Fr., G/F, 6-foot-8, 200 pounds; from Vaughan, Ontario, Canada

(All information uses only mock drafts posted since news of Embiid's foot injury)

Stock assessment: Embiid's loss is Wiggins' gain. The wildly athletic Canadian arrived at KU as the projected No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and now he could be back atop Cleveland's big board. If Embiid and Wiggins have one thing in common besides their year at KU, its their upside. With a clean bill of health and the kind of speed and leap-out-of-the-arena ability that are difficult to find, Wiggins could turn into a better pro player than Parker, even if Parker is more ready to contribute right away.

Average mock draft position: 1st

Current high: 1st (in seven mock drafts)

Current low: 3rd (in one mock draft)

Overall movement: Rising — Seven of the 11 current mock drafts examined here have Wiggins going No. 1. That could mean he begins his NBA career in Cleveland. Or it could mean some other team who covets a young player with a bright future offers the Cavs some sort of trade package to land Wiggins. Philadelphia is thought to covet Wiggins, and the 76ers might be willing to trade up two spots from No. 3 to make sure they can get him.


— Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

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