Someway, somehow the Cleveland Cavaliers have managed to win the NBA Draft lottery for the third time in four years despite having just a 1.7percent chance at the top spot.
Conspiracy theorists may argue that it’s some sort of grand scheme to make up for LeBron James skipping town but it won’t change the fact that the Cavs will be picking first from this year’s draft that is loaded with potential superstars.
Still, Cleveland would be wise to use that pick on Joel Embiid. After all, truly elite centers that can impact the game on both ends of the floor a rare breed in today’s NBA.
There are plenty who specialize in putting the ball into the basket such as Demarcus Cousins and Brook Lopez. Plenty who specialise in defense such as Joakim Noah and Roy Hibbert. But there aren’t any that especially thrive in either category.
The closest thing to such a player is Dwight Howard, the three time Defensive Player of the Year who averages nearly 18 points per game. Yet even he doesn’t have refined set of scoring moves.
Embiid is exactly that. Or at least that is what he has the potential to be. He has shown glimpses of brilliance at times, plus he already has the physical attributes. Standing 7ft tall with 7’5” wingspan, the length needed to be a decent center in the NBA. Throw in his incredible athleticism and you’ve got a gem.
Think DeAndre Jordan or Javale McGee, that is the sort of athleticism he possesses and he has used every bit of it be a menace in the paint, swatting away 2.6 shots per game during his lone year at Kansas.
His athleticism also lends itself on the boards as he hauled in 8.6 rebounds per game, which was third in the Big 12 Conference. Furthermore, at 250lb, he has the strength and weight to be hold able his ground against the big boys in the low post.
That will be the skillset he will provide to Cleveland from day one and that will help transform their average defense (which ranked 17th in opponents’ points per game allowed - 101.5) into a potential to 10 unit.
At the very least, he would sure up the paint and protect the rim. Something which the Cavaliers currently do not possess since the leaders in blocks are Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller with 39 and 38 respectively. That is why the Cleveland Cavaliers were the second worst shot blocking team in the NBA in 2013-14 (3.7 blocks per game).
Offensively, he is still somewhat raw but boy does he have skills. His wheelhouse right now is the post where he has a plethora of moves to get by defenders, including the Dream Shake. However, he can hit outside shots from time to time and that will be a weapon he can rely upon as he continues to develop.
Cleveland already has perimeter players that can create for themselves in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, so going after Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker doesn't make a whole lot of sense. What they lack is a bigman to provide points from trenches. That is why they aggressively pursuit Andrew Bynum last year but that ended in an unmitigated disaster and he is now without a team.
The only other player in this draft that can provide such a skillset is Kentucky’s Julius Randle, although he is slightly undersized and isn’t exactly a rock on the defensive end, therefore he would leave them exposed against taller opponents.
At the end of the day, selecting Embiid overall with the number one draft pick makes sense for it not to happen because of the way the Cavs fail to do good business. The Cameroon born bigman is exactly what Cleveland needs following the Bynum debacle in 2013-14.
The only possible stumbling block is his durability since there are questions about his back which forced him to play in 28 games. Yet even then, the potential reward far outweighs the risk.
The general consensus is that the 20-year old has the potential to be as great as Hakeem Olajuwon, an NBA Hall-of-Famer and arguably the greatest center in the game. Or at worst be along the same level as Oklahoma City Thunder’s Serge Ibaka, a premier shot blocker who plays at an All-Star level.
Talk about a win-win situation.
Oh, and the numbers posted while at Kansas, those are from only 23 minutes of action? Imagine what he could do with ample game time.
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