With the news of center Joel Embiid’s latest setback on his right foot Saturday, the status of the Sixers draft plans could drastically change on June 25.
Embiid, originally expected to miss 5-8 months, is now coming up on a full year since his first surgery.According to Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski,a recent CT scan revealed an issue in the healing process and the Sixers are currently consulting with doctors on how to best proceed.
Point guard D’Angelo Russell, who worked out for the Sixers on Wednesday, seemed to be the player pegged for the Sixers at No. 3 on draft night. But with the recent Embiid news, the Sixers front office is put into an interesting predicament and one they’ll have to evaluate deeply leading up to the draft.
If Embiid requires further surgery, the Sixers might want to think of drafting big again, like they’ve done in the previous two drafts. Karl Anthony-Towns and Jahlil Okafor are being widely viewed as the consensus No. 1 and No. 2 picks on draft night, but a 7-foot-1 center from Latvia, Kristaps Porzingis, has been gaining steam in recent weeks and will likely be available if the Sixers do intend to go big once again next week.
Sam Hinkie was in Las Vegas this past Friday to see Porzingis workout and is reportedly very high on him. DraftExpress.com currently hasPorzingis being taken by the Sixers at No. 3, explaining that his athleticism and shooting stroke would be a great fit in Philly. Porzingis averaged 11.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 block per game in just 21.4 minutes for Spanish ClubBaloncesto Sevilla this past season. He also shot 42 of 117 (36%) from the three-point line, which is something the Sixers were hoping Embiid would provide to the team in the upcoming season.
Brett Brown has been quoted as saying that Embiid could be the “second best shooter” on the team, and they were hoping to build their offense (which ranked 30th in the NBA last season) around Embiid being the centerpiece. The recent news throws a wrench into that, and if Embiid does require a second surgery, Porzingis could be a viable replacement. He’s drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Chris Bosh at just 19 years old and has plenty of time to grow with this rebuilding team.
Russell, who averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists last season for the Buckeyes, will definitely still be in play on draft night. So will point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who worked out with the Sixers on Tuesday. Mudiay averaged 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.9 steals last season for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. But, outside of Anthony-Towns or Okafor falling to the Sixers at No. 3 on draft night, expect Hinkie to give some serious consideration to Porzingis and don’t be surprised to see him cross the stage with a newly stitched Sixers cap next Thursday in New York.