The Case of Joel Embiid: Would the Atlanta Hawks Stop His Draft Fall?


How far will Joel Embiid fall in the NBA Draft due to his foot injury? Could he slip all the way to the Atlanta Hawks at #15? Maybe — anything is possible. (Photo by USA Today)

Injury history has become an unfortunate important factor in all of sports and seems to be a topic of discussion every year as the NBA draft approaches, especially when a bigman is the center of attention.

Teams with high draft choices spend countless hours preparing for their draft selection and look at all the information they can when focusing on a possible selection for their picks.

The NBA has a long history of injuries hurting the promising careers of high draft choices, which has made teams especially cautious when looking into injury histories of prospects.

Joel Embiid is the latest addition to the list of players effected by this trend after the discovery of a need for surgery due to a stress fracture in his foot.

Embiid was seen as a possible first overall selection, but his stock is now a murky topic as the league prepares for the draft that is less than a week away.

Embiid’s potential may be one of the highest in the draft, which makes it hard for any to believe he’ll be on the board outside the top-5 picks, but stress fractures have had huge impacts of the careers of NBA bigman in the past, and the likelihood that Embiid may never reach his potential feels very possible at this point.

With the draft considered one of the better classes in recent years, teams at the top of the order are shifting their attention at new options. The world will still have to wait to find out where Joel Embiid will call his new home, but it seems every fanbase is wondering the same thing: If Embiid is on the board when my team picks, will they pass on him?

The Atlanta Hawks have the 15th-overall pick in the draft on Thursday, a spot that will have plenty of options for the organization, but few will expect to see Embiid as such an option when the clock starts for the Hawks.

The Hawks are expected to look to find the best options to fill needs at the wing positions, however the team won’t look at other positions if a better player is available. Embiid would certainly make the organization ponder selecting him if he somehow made it all the way to 15.

The center position is a hot topic among Hawks fans with the team coming off a season with problems of depth in the front court from injuries to Al Horford, Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon.

Horford remains the future at the center position for now, and the team has the exciting talent in Lucas Nogueira to continue to develop as he looks to possibly debut in the NBA next season. Embiid would be the best player available at 15 if he was on the board, and his selection by the Hawks could be a steal, but could just as easily not work out.

The Hawks may be a better fit for Embiid, as the team won’t be looking to need big minutes from him from the start. Horford is expected to be back and healthy by training camp and the team may have Nogueira ready as well. If Embiid recovered well, he could be eased into play for the team, and the focus would be developing him over time into a possible starting center for Atlanta.

Embiid’s ceiling may be of an All-Star, but two injuries in the past six months may be just the beginning of a long stretch of issues as he begins his NBA career. Most teams were unable to workout the young bigman as he only performed for top five teams, and he’ll be sidelined for the next 4-6 months before he can resume basketball activities and could be out as long as 9 months to 1 year, so it will be a while before he debuts for any team.

If Embiid’s career fell short of expectation due to injury, it will not be seen as much of a failure if selected at 15, but Hawks’ front office still may go in another direction if presented with this situation, as the team has shown a trend of looking for the best player for their team and the system in place under Coach Mike Budenholzer.

Embiid is expected to remain one of the biggest topics as NBA Draft night nears, but the wait for his selection is still expected to be early into the draft.

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