The possible Joel Embiid foot break heard round the world--not that of Kentucky forward Julius Randle--may change the way the Utah Jazz select the player they want with the No. 5 overall pick at the 2014 NBA Draft.
Or, the order will stay the way it is--with the exception of Embiid--and Utah will still get the player it thought it would get in the first place, which is why it's good the Jazz have already worked out Indiana forward Noah Vonleh, Arizona forward Aaron Gordon and Kentucky forward Julius Randle. One thing is for sure, this breaking news makes things awfully interesting going into the draft.
Keep in mind, Embiid is reported in several mock drafts to still go to Orlando at No. 4 even if the worst is confirmed and he needs surgery on his foot. So there is no guarantee that the player Jazz fans seem to want--Duke star Jabari Parker--would slide to No. 5 on account of Embiid tumbling down the draft order.
In fact, the likelihood of that happening is less because Cleveland, Milwaukee and Philadelphia--who currently hold the top three picks--would probably pick guards and small forwards as opposed to centers and power forwards.
Meaning that the route that the Jazz have already taken to bring in mostly power forwards in consideration of their No. 5 pick was probably the safest. Here are the five most likely players the Jazz will select at the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft at their current No. 5 spot--provided that either Andrew Wiggins or Jabari don’t break their clavicle between now and the draft.
Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Vonleh seems like the likely player the Jazz take at No. 5--provided there isn’t another player whose draft stock drops between now and then. His upside is simply too good to pass on. He has length for a big man, he can shoot and he’s still young. What’s not to like?
Julius Randle, Kentucky
Randle is a poor man’s Karl Malone. He can play with his back to the basket or he can go at you. While his defense needs a little work--and the health of his foot is in question--he’s another player like Vonleh who has a ton of upside and should be considered at No. 5.
Dante Exum, Australia
Exum’s draft stock soared as soon as reports of Embiid’s injury circulated on Thursday. All of a sudden, teams started looking at point guards once the center of the future was in question. So while Exum may have been an option before Embiid’s injury, he probably isn’t now--but you never know come draft day.
Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Gordon is the one player--other than Jabari--that nobody seems to have a handle on. His upside--which is his athleticism--is literally off the charts. But his shooting touch, in particular at the free throw line, is what has NBA teams spooked. He’s a roll of the dice at No. 5, and frankly, the Jazz have better options.
Jabari Parker, Duke
Parker is the one wild card in this draft, because he would fit so well within the Jazz system. He would bring instant offense to Utah--along with marketing potential to the nth degree--but his defense is suspect. That said, half the Jazz team’s defense needs work so if the Jazz were to pull the trigger and move up in the draft to get one guy, it would be Parker, without any question.