The Boston Celtics have some interesting options if they decide to keep their sixth overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft. While the team was busy looking at players such as Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh and Julius Randle, the NBA’s top prospect Joel Embiid could slip down to the Celtics due to injury. According to a June 26 report by the Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes, the Celtics will take a chance on Embiid.
The 7-foot standout out of Kansas was slotted to at least go in the top three until he underwent surgery on a stress fracture in his right foot last Friday. As his projected recovery timetable is at least 4-6 months, teams may shy away from Emiid out of fear that he won’t be that impact player he is projected to be. But there are teams that may be willing to take a chance in case the talented center does fully recover. The Celtics are one of those teams.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge called the recent change of events surround Emiid a “pretty unique situation.” If the Celtics can’t find a way to trade for the services of All-Star power forward Kevin Love, Ainge could take his chances with Embiid, especially with the team having the No. 17 pick in the first round to fall back on. If the team does have to go full rebuild mode, waiting half a season for a “rim protector” like Embiid could pay off in the future. The Celtics would have to know for sure that the foot injury wouldn’t be something that stalls Embiid’s NBA career.
The young prospect has had his injury compared to that of Bill Walton and Yao Ming, dominate centers who have had their careers cut short. But, according to Dr. Kenneth Hunt, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the Stanford Center, Embiid’s youth along would distinguish him from both Ming and Walton’s situation.
“The fact that [Embiid is] young, his body has a much better potential to heal than if this were to happen in his mid-to-late 30s towards the end of an NBA career. He has a higher chance of healing completely and also more rapidly given his young age,” Hunt said.
Still, drafting Embiid if he slides will be a risk for a team trying to get better. But the Celtics also have a stockpile of draft picks that could enable them to take the chance. If all works out and Embiid heals and is healthy, the Celtics would have the type of dominate inside player they have been searching for. There is also a chance they could have the NBA’s next Greg Oden.