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A major shockwave was sent through the NBA on Thursday, as it was revealed to the sporting world that Kansas center Joel Embiid, the favorite to go #1 over all to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Thursday’s draft, has undergone foot surgery.
The immediate impact appears to be that Embiid will drop from that top spot, slipping all the way to fourth on ESPN's draft projection board, a spot currently held by the Orlando Magic. Guard Andrew Wiggins, Embiid’s teammate at KU, is now projected to be taken by the Cavaliers, and Duke guard Jabari Parker and Australian guard Dante Exum are now predicted to be selected before the 7-foot shot blocker from Cameroon.
The consensus is that Cleveland surely won’t use the #1 pick that was so luckily handed to them (they had just a 1.7 percent chance of garnering the pick, leading to the third time in four years that they will select first in the draft) on such a risky player, who was also sidelined at the end of last season due to back problems.
There were reasons that Embiid was projected to be the top pick however, and they almost exclusively have to do with the 2.6 blocks, 8.1 rebounds, and 11.2 points that he produced per game his freshman year with the Jayhawks. Some wonder whether that impressive production, coupled with Embiid’s freakish 7-foot, 5-inch wingspan, as reported by DraftExpress, will be enough to lay Cleveland’s concerns to rest, and lure them into taking Embiid with the first pick anyway.
Whatever the Cavaliers decide, it sure will be fun to keep tabs on the situation, and speculate what they will do when they are called to the podium for that first pick.