While speculation will certainly continue to run wild over the next two weeks, it seems that the Cleveland Cavaliers have made their decision as to who they will select with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The Cavs were reportedly “blown away” by Kansas center Joel Embiid’s workout recently and unless the team is overwhelmed by a trade offer, he will be their pick.
ESPN’s Chad Ford confirmed what I’ve been hearing for a while: that Embiid has been Cleveland’s favorite throughout the process, but the team needed to clear him medically. His back has been thoroughly checked out and he received a clean bill of health from team doctors last week, so that doesn’t appear to be an issue.
Embiid’s interview and workout in Cleveland last week both went extremely well and the Cavs appear to have everyone on board with his selection. Even owner Dan Gilbert is all-in on the big center.
Things could still change over the next two weeks, but Embiid provides the Cavs with something they don’t have: a young, athletic big man who could be a game-changer. When paired with Kyrie Irving, he would give Cleveland one of the best inside-out combinations in the NBA within a few years.
Embiid is a legit 7-footer, weighing in at a solid 250 pounds. He is long and super athletic for a guy his size. He’s incredibly coordinated and most often draws comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon. The most impressive part of Embiid’s game is his ability to move, both up and down the floor and laterally.
The 20-year-old native of Yaounde, Cameroon already has a very nice mid-range game and can even step out and hit a three when needed. He’s also a top-level shot-blocker and rebounder, while being aggressive but not reckless defensively.
Embiid is not a finished product and must add strength to his frame, and he also has to prove that his back injury is really a thing of the past and not something that will be a consistent problem. That said, I think he’s the clear No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, and it looks like the Cavs agree with me.