Stock watch: Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins await lottery fate
By Tuesday night, NBA prospects Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid will have a much better idea about what their future might look like.
The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery — televised live on ESPN at 7 p.m. — determines which organizations land the top three overall picks in the draft. The team lucky enough to snag the No. 1 pick will have its choice of Wiggins, Embiid or Duke's Jabari Parker. (Or someone else if the people in charge want to swing and miss.)
At this point, all the top prospects know is that Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Orlando were the three worst teams in the NBA this season and they have the best odds of ending up in the top three — Bucks (64.2%), 76ers (55.8%) and Magic (46.9%).
But, depending on how the ping pong balls bounce, some other organization — Utah, Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento, Detroit, Cleveland, Denver, Minnesota or Phoenix — could end up as a potential suitor.
How important is the lottery? Both Wiggins and Embiid already are in New York and plan to attend it in person.
With five weeks left until the draft (June 26, in New York), here is a look at the draft stock for Kansas University's lottery-picks-to-be.
Fr., C, 7-foot, 250 pounds; from Yaounde, Cameroon
Stock assessment: Embiid has a very good thing going for him. He's a center. And NBA decision-makers love using their top picks on players who can impact the paint on both ends of the floor. If he were a few inches shorter, or played another position, Embiid's back, site of a stress fracture that kept him out of KU's lineup in the postseason, would be under even more scrutiny.
Average mock draft position: 3rd
Current high: 1st — NBADraft.net
Current low: 4th — MyNBADraft.com
Overall movement: Falling — But not far. A few weeks back, Embiid's average draft position was 2nd. After he (like Wiggins and Parker) skipped out on the NBA Draft combine in Chicago last week, you get the feeling folks around the league are a tad worried about Embiid's back and his longterm health. However, all of that could disappear when teams bring him in for individual workouts and have their organization's doctors check him out.
Longtime NBA reporter David Aldridge explained on NBA.com that Embiid's agent, Arn Tellem, isn't currently making the 7-footer's medical records available. And he very well might continue to keep them out of the reach of NBA front offices.
Still, Aldridge talked to a number of league executives, and some aren't overly concerned about Embiid's longevity. Here's what one Central Division executive said:
"The No. 1 issue is going to be the medical issue with him. There's no other issues really to deal with. With him not having taken the physical in Chicago, he's difficult to project. I don't see him falling out of the top three unless there's a medical red flag."
Fr., G/F, 6-foot-8, 200 pounds; from Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Stock assessment: Unfairly, Wiggins entered the college ranks amid comparisons to LeBron James and Kevin Durant. While his critics quickly shot down the idea of the KU freshman reaching the level of the NBA's two biggest stars, Wiggins handled it all perfectly. He just kept developing his game and improving in his one season as a Jayhawk. While the perception of what he can accomplish at the next level might have changed, Wiggins could still be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
Average mock draft position: 2nd
Current high: 1st — Draft Express and MyNBADraft.com
Current low: 2nd — NBADraft.net and DraftSite.com
Overall movement: Holding steady — A lot could change between now and the draft, but at this point the consensus is Wiggins will go No. 1 or No. 2. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which he would slip any farther than No. 3.
That's not the only good news for Wiggins. NBA scouts, coaches and executives have a college season's worth of information on him now. If teams were still able to draft players straight out of high school, Wiggins might have gone No. 1 last year and began his career with unrealistic expectations thrown at him.
Instead, no one will expect Wiggins to come in and save a franchise by himself. Plus, teams still value his athleticism (see: reported 44-inch vertical) and potential for the future.
A Pacific Division executive indicated to Aldridge that some expect Wiggins to develop into something special once he has been in the league for a while.
"As far as a couple of years down the road, he could really take off because of his athleticism. I think his skills are going to improve. He's not the smooth scorer that Parker is. He's more explosive. He can go off in spurts. He's probably a little better in the transition game."
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