5 Teams That Should Be All-in on Joel Embiid in 2014 NBA Draft

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2014

5 Teams That Should Be All-in on Joel Embiid in 2014 NBA Draft

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    After initial reports from Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski that Kansas freshman Joel Embiid would enter the 2014 NBA draft, the 20-year-old center denied making a decision Thursday.

    Either way, teams are licking their chops in anticipation of him turning pro this spring.

    The Cameroon native averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 2013-14, displaying a quickly growing offensive arsenal and a 7'5" wingspan to rebound and protect the rim.

    His poorly timed back injury hurt the Jayhawks' postseason hopes and put a little dent in his draft stock, but he could still end up being one of the top three picks in the draft, if not the No. 1 overall choice.

    If he proves to be healthy and explosive in pre-draft workouts and the NBA draft combine, a handful of bottom-feeding NBA clubs should be more than willing to select him with a high lottery pick. We're not going to knock anyone for picking Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins with a top pick, but Embiid should be the top target for several teams.

    Which franchises should be all-in on the big fella, and why?

Milwaukee Bucks

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    JEFFREY PHELPS/Associated Press

    The Milwaukee Bucks own the NBA's worst record, and if they maintain that title, they'll have the best odds of winning the lottery.

    Even if they don't win it, they're likely to land among the top three picks. If that happens, and Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins are off the board, they should scoop up Joel Embiid.

    If you've seen the Bucks at all in 2013-14, you know that they're in sorry shape. They need help at pretty much every position, including in the post.

    Embiid wouldn't be an instant savior, but if he reaches his ceiling, he'll be able to do things that Larry Sanders and John Henson can't. With all due respect, Embiid's potential is on another level.

    He'd give them legitimate offensive production at the center spot, using his expanding low-post repertoire and impressive instincts. In addition, he would make them one of the best shot-blocking teams in the league.

    Even if Milwaukee gets the No. 1 pick, they should still highly consider Embiid. Truly elite big men are rare, and he has a good chance to become the league's next great center. 

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Given their current losing skid, the Philadelphia 76ers will be right in the hunt for a top-three slot come lottery night.

    Sam Hinkie's club has done almost everything to openly tank except hang a "We're Tanking!" banner outside of the Wells Fargo Center. The franchise put together a squad destined to fail in order to put themselves in prime position for a star draftee.

    Even with Nerlens Noel returning, the Sixers are going to need size and talent on the defensive end, and they could certainly use interior scoring in half-court scenarios. Philly leads the league in pace factor, and they're great in transition; but when things slow down, they struggle with paint production.

    Enter Embiid. The 7'0" athlete would serve the squad well during uptempo sequences, and he'd be a tremendous asset as part of their half-court sets.

    Imagine pick-and-rolls with Michael Carter-Williams and Embiid, or a lineup where Philly employs Nerlens Noel at the 4. They could create some huge mismatches and make a chase for the playoffs sooner than expected.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    It's going to be a summer of transition in Tinseltown, and they need to take advantage of the opportunity to grab a frontcourt anchor.

    Mike D'Antoni's Los Angeles Lakers have the sixth-worst record in the NBA, so they could very well sneak into the upper part of the lottery. That draft pick will be their first step toward rebuilding (or as Kobe Bryant would have it, "reloading") their roster and returning to glory.

    L.A. has done some historic things (think Showtime, Shaq-Kobe three-peat) with centers in the past, and Joel Embiid has the tools and mental makeup to be the next tower patrolling the Staples Center paint. The Lakers haven't been the same since losing Andrew Bynum, and they're one of the worst-scoring teams inside the paint.

    The Embiid-Kobe partnership could be a great one, even if it's fleeting. Bryant knows how to work with big men and get the most out of them, and he would set up the youngster for short- and long-term success.

    With the right supporting cast via free agency, the duo could make some noise in the West, especially in 2015-16.

Orlando Magic

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Sure, the Orlando Magic already have Nikola Vucevic, who's a prolific rebounder and rock-solid scoring option. They may be tempted to draft a playmaker or wing instead.

    However, they need someone to alter and reject shots near the basket, because no one on the current roster is particularly adept in that department. Kyle O'Quinn leads the entire team with 1.1 blocks per game.

    Embiid swatted 4.5 shots per 40 minutes at Kansas in 2013-14, which is extremely impressive considering he's still learning team concepts and fundamental positioning. Once he grows more as an all-around defender, he'll use his 7'5" wingspan to become an elite rim protector.

    Steve Kuyler of Basketball Insiders recently targeted Embiid as one of the prime prospects Orlando should focus on at the No. 3 range: "The Magic need to come out of this draft with a potential franchise changing player. At  No. 3, its likely [Dante] Exum, Embiid or [Julius] Randle."

    There will be multiple tempting options for Orlando on draft night, but they should not overlook Embiid if he's still available.

Boston Celtics

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    The Boston Celtics are another team that should jump at the chance to get Embiid if the lottery allows them to do so.

    Brad Stevens' crew has some strength and skill in the paint, but not much length. Kansas' young phenom would take care of that in a big way and provide the Celts with an imposing presence.

    Guys like Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green would love to work with someone like Embiid, as they miss the good ol' days when they had a star post player in Kevin Garnett.

    Rondo would utilize the new center wonderfully, both in the two-man game and as a decoy. We haven't even seen what the prodigy could do with a top-tier point guard, but we can only imagine it'd be a beefed-up version of what he did at Kansas.

    Boston's roster currently consists of Rondo and a bunch of B-list players, so the 2014 draft is an opportunity for them to acquire another pillar as they rebuild.


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