Height/Weight: 7-0 / 250
Birthdate: March 16, 1994
College: Kansas University
Predicted Draft Position: Top 10
Strengths: Joel Embiid is an extremely talented athlete. Embiid has played sports throughout his life, however reportedly only started playing basketball at age 15. Prior to basketball, Embiid played volleyball and soccer, the two most popular sports in his home country of Cameroon. Soccer and volleyball have gifted Embiid with impressive footwork for a man of his size as well as increasingly impressive overall athleticism. His body control and lateral movement are exceptional for a big man. Naturally, a player as big and powerful as Embiid will be dominate in the paint, which is the case with him as expected. What is surprising is that he doesn’t rely solely on his post game as a means of scoring, but has developed a close and mid-range shot which he can hit quite consistently. He’s even developed a range as far out as the college three-point line, however it still needs work.
Weaknesses: Joel Embiid doesn’t have many post moves in his current arsenal, which makes it pretty easy to guess where he’s going with the ball when he begins to back you down. Although his coaches say he has already greatly improved in that regard, it is apparent that his post game still needs work. His defensive and rebounding skills are disappointing considering his size. He isn’t particularly aggressive and doesn’t look to make big blocks, but rather chooses to play tight defense and hope it goes his way. Due to his size and natural ability, it shouldn’t be hard to coach these skills to him, however he really needs to improve in that regard. He needs to make a presence in the paint and play far more aggressively. Successful centers such as Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, and Shaquille O’Neal all had a massive presence in the paint that made players want to turn and find a better shot every time they came down low. Embiid needs to develop such a presence.
Projection: Personally, I don’t think Joel Embiid is NBA-ready. He is a great scorer for his size and he has good ball handling skills, however centers (especially of his size) need to have a dominate defensive and rebounding game in order to succeed. Unless he develops such a game over this season, which I wouldn’t rule out considering he is naturally gifted and a hard-worker, I would suggest he not go out for the draft. However, if he does, he will be a early pick that rides the bench over his first season or two, not necessarily a bust, but a slow developer.
Interesting Note: Joel Embiid started playing basketball only two years ago and is expected to go as a lottery pick in the upcoming draft.