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NBA PM: Will Joel Embiid Slip on Draft Night?

Joel Embiid has yet another injury and will undergo surgery on Friday. Will this setback cause him to slip on draft night?

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Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders Noah Coslov of CineSport discuss the effect that Joel Embiid’s foot injury could have on the NBA Draft. Plus, Yannis gives his sleeper lottery pick.

Will Joel Embiid Slip on Draft Night?

The bad news just keeps coming for Joel Embiid. After injuring his knee and back during his lone collegiate season at Kansas, he now has a right foot injury that will keep him out for the remainder of the pre-draft process.

Embiid met with doctors today, who diagnosed the big man with a stress fracture in the navicular bone in his right foot, which will require surgery on Friday. Arn Tellem, Embiid’s agent, confirmed that the injury happened at some point over the last few days and said that his client won’t be able to do any more workouts prior to next week’s draft due to the injury.

“Joel will be unable to participate in any additional workouts, and will not attend the draft in New York,” Tellem told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

The Cleveland Cavaliers discovered the foot injury in their recent medical exam of Embiid and passed the information onto his camp, according to Wojnarowski.

Embiid has only been playing basketball for four years, yet this is the third injury that he has sustained in that short span. In addition to this foot injury, he had a knee injury that sidelined him for a game at Kansas as well as a stress fracture in his back that kept him out of the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments. There have also been reports that Embiid dealt with a similar back issue while in high school.

Considering Embiid is just 20 years old and hasn’t been playing basketball for long, these injuries are very concerning. If he is already this beat up after a few short seasons, how will his body hold up over an 82-game NBA season? Right now, he’s getting hurt while playing as a man among boys. When he’s matching up against other physical specimens who are just as big and strong as him, how will his body fare? He’ll be expected to gain weight once he’s in an NBA development program, but can his body handle that?

The navicular bone is what limited Yao Ming and ultimately ended his career, so there’s no doubt that this is serious. NBA executives are concerned about Embiid’s health, and believe this latest setback will hurt his draft stock.

“It’s just too risky at No. 1 with the other options available,” one NBA executive told Basketball Insiders of Embiid’s injuries. “We are paid to evaluate talent, not to diagnose medical conditions so the first injury wouldn’t bother me much as long as the doctors signed off. But with the risk that this turns into a Greg Oden – Kevin Durant situation and with the other great options in this draft, I don’t see how you can’t move him down on your board. On the other hand, when healthy he is clearly the top talent in the draft, so he won’t slide too far.”

As the executive pointed out, if Embiid didn’t have any injury concerns, he’d be the clear No. 1 overall pick since he’s one of the best big man prospects that has come through the draft in quite some time. He has made huge strides in a short amount of time and was very impressive at Kansas, averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.

NBA executives rave about Embiid’s graceful movements, soft touch, exceptional footwork, incredible instincts, high basketball IQ, 7’5 wingspan, extraordinary athleticism and limitless potential. He has even drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon, which gives you an idea of how good he could be if he realizes his full potential.

However, with all of these injuries surfacing in recent years, he’s also drawing comparisons to another big man who was drafted first overall several years ago: Greg Oden.

A big man who has a history of back, knee and foot injuries is terrifying for a team picking at the top of the draft, since those are some ailments that tend to nag a player over the course of their career. In a draft like this with so many potential franchise-changing players available, no team wants to select an ineffective Embiid and miss on players like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, who could become All-Stars when all is said and done. That’s what the executive was touching on, and many executives feel the same way.

For a team like the Cavaliers, who really has to get this draft right since they want to make the playoffs next season, keep Kyrie Irving content and avoid another strikeout after picking Anthony Bennett last year, Embiid may just be too big of a risk. Someone like Wiggins or Parker would be the safer pick, since they aren’t as much of a boom-or-bust prospect as Embiid and have clean bills of health.

Wiggins, Embiid’s former Kansas teammate, may actually benefit the most from this development. Wiggins in Cleveland makes a lot of sense, since he would be surrounded by a young, talented supporting cast and wouldn’t have to be the man in Cleveland from day one. He’d be able to ease into stardom rather than being a team’s savior right away, which is perfect for him since he’s likely still a few years away from being ready for that role. However, Parker is also in the mix for the top pick and Cleveland will reportedly work out Dante Exum as well. The Cavs continue to weigh their trade options with the top overall pick as well.

While this latest injury is horrible news for Embiid since it could cause him to slip on draft night, this could be good news for a team outside of the top three. While Embiid may be a scary selection for a team like the Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers, he becomes an interesting value pick for a team like the Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers. At that point, Embiid is less risky and those teams may feel his ridiculous upside outweighs the concerns about his health.

Even before this latest foot injury, executives and scouts were scared of Embiid’s health, throwing out phrases like “huge red flag” and “cause for concern” when discussing his health. Now, this is just another strike on Embiid, and he may be in for a free fall on draft night.

Get the 2014 NBA Draft Issue of Basketball Insiders Magazine. The magazine can be purchased in three ways: You can buy it on the web, and the magazine will work on all devices. | You can buy it from the iTunes app store (for Apple users) | You can buy it from the Google Play store (for Android users). Get yours today!

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Nike, USA Basketball Announce Chicago World Basketball Festival 2014

This August, Nike, Jordan Brand and USA Basketball will host the third-annual World Basketball Festival on the lakefront parks of Chicago. The World Basketball Festival 2014 will feature members of the 2014 USA Basketball Men’s National Team in Chicago, IL from August 13-17, as they train for the 2014 FIBA World Cup and participate in youth skills clinics and community events including basketball court refurbishments and school symposiums on behalf of Nike, Jordan Brand and USA Basketball.

Current players on USA Basketball, basketball greats and members of the Chicago community will make appearances and participate in various activities throughout the tour.

“At Nike, we believe in the power of sport to unlock human potential and we are committed to helping the City of Chicago’s children lead active lives,” said Caitlin Morris, Executive Director of North America Access to Sport for Nike.  “We know active kids do better and that it’s essential to create early, positive experiences for kids in sport. We are supporting in-school and after school programs that provide kids with the opportunity to move more and learn skills, helping them with their game on and off the court.”

“We are pleased to bring the World Basketball Festival to the city of Chicago,” said Michael Jackson, Vice President General Manager of Global Basketball, Nike Brand. “Nike, Jordan Brand and the City of Chicago are forever linked in basketball heritage and we want create a lasting legacy through commitment to Chicago’s youth.”

On Thursday, August 14, Nike Inc. and USA Basketball will host an opening ceremony at the 63rd Street Beach House that will officially launch the World Basketball Festival in Chicago. As part of the ceremony, consumers will hear from their favorite basketball players and coaches as well as interact with USA Basketball product collections.

The 63rd Street Beach House will pay homage to the game of basketball both from a global and Chicago-perspective and will tell heritage and innovation stories, showcasing historic footwear and apparel as well as their current iterations. In addition, several Chi-League games will be played at the Beach House featuring some of the cities greatest basketball players. Chi League 3v3 will be introduced and have open registration for August 14-16 games and the Chi League pro-am finals close out with weekend of August 17.

Anthony Davis, a member of the 2014 USA Basketball National Team and a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, will take an active role in giving back to his hometown of Chicago through several community events, retail appearances and skills clinics throughout the duration of the World Basketball Festival.

“Hosting World Basketball Festival 2014 is a huge step for Chicago basketball,” said Davis. “Bringing the World Basketball Festival to Chicago will open people’s eyes to all the basketball talent from the city of Chicago.”

“Since first being held in 2010, the World Basketball Festival has become a memorable and exciting event for USA Basketball National Team fans,” said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball chairman. “We’re honored to have the opportunity to bring the energy and excitement of USA Basketball’s Men’s National Team to basketball fans in the Chicago and the surrounding communities, and to give them an opportunity to celebrate this great game with their national team.”

To cap off the festival in Chicago, the 2014 USA Men’s National Team will face the 2014 Brazil Men’s National Team in an exhibition game at the United Center on Saturday, August 16 at 8:00 p.m. CDT. Tickets start at $25, and can be purchased here.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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