Joel Embiid Loves L.A., but Will Lakers Return Feeling After Injury?

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2014

LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 18:  Joel Embiid #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts after scoring during the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Allen Fieldhouse on January 18, 2014 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Joel Embiid loves Los Angeles. You don't need to read between the lines on his Twitter feed to know that.

While in the City of Angels for an appointment with a back specialist, Embiid tweeted his adoration for L.A.:

And he's not the only top prospect angling toward the Los Angeles Lakers. According to the Sporting News (via CBS' Matt Moore), some executives are worried Dante Exum may "force" his way to the Lakers.

He could be a nice consolation if they're unable to land Embiid, who unfortunately got some bad news following his appointment with the doctor.

Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde shared the results:

Then The Kansas City Star's Rustin Dodd added a timeline:

Unless Embiid's back turns into a lingering issue, or he returns too soon and aggravates it, this injury shouldn't hurt his draft stock.

Embiid isn't just the best big man in the 2014 draft class, he's the top overall prospect on the big board of ESPN's Chad Ford.

He's also No. 1 for Bleacher Report's draft guru Jonathan Wasserman, who said:

The thing to me that separates Embiid from teammate Andrew Wiggins, and even Duke's Jabari Parker or Kentucky's Julius Randle, is that his presence alone makes teammates better.

You hear that cliche tossed around all the time, but with Embiid, you can actually see the difference he makes on a play-to-play basis, even if it doesn't result in a point, assist, board or block.

The Los Angeles Lakers could use that kind of difference maker.

And considering their current state, there's a chance Embiid could find himself wearing purple and gold in a few months regardless of Monday's news:

If the season ended today, the Lakers would have the fourth-worst record in the NBA, giving them an 11.9 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick according to And with Pau Gasol's contract expiring, the Lakers will be in the market for a center.

Embiid can be a franchise cornerstone around which the team can build as we head into the twilight of Kobe Bryant's career.

I've said it all season, Bryant can take whomever L.A. drafts under his wing and mentor him the way David Robinson did for Tim Duncan.

Whether that's Embiid, Exum, or some other prospect remains to be seen.

However things shake out, somebody will probably be pretty happy to play in front of the celebrities at Staples Center and for one of the most storied organizations in professional sports.


Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.