Any chance the Celtics had at drafting Kansas big man Joel Embiid seemingly went out the window back on May 20, when Boston fell back in the NBA Draft Lottery.
But Embiid’s recent right foot injury, in which he had to have two screws inserted into his navicular bone, could very well make him slide in the draft – all the way to No. 6 where the Celtics pick on Thursday (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
Celtics president of basketball ops Danny Ainge has historically reveled in taking gambles, but selecting, or even moving up in the draft to select Embiid would no doubt be the biggest risk he’s taken since he took over as Boston boss 11 years ago.
“[The navicular bone and the ligaments around it] are responsible for taking the load of the weight of the body as it comes down,” said Dr. Ben Wedro of MD Direct to NBC Sports. “So, when you’re 7-foot whatever, that takes more load than if you’re me at 5-foot-9. It’s one of those things that happens unfortunately. I don’t know if we’re built to be 7 feet.”
Embiid was listed at 7-feet even, 250 pounds at Kansas, weighing considerably less than the likes of a Greg Oden, who was 7-feet and weighed 280 pounds while at Ohio State. The Cameroon-born Embiid didn’t start playing basketball regularly until 2010, so there is little basketball wear-and-tear on his body. Add in the fact that Embiid’s body resembles that of a Serge Ibaka (6-10, 245) or Anthony Davis (6-10, 220) more than a Yao Ming (7-6, 310) or Sam Bowie (7-1, 263) and there is reason to believe that Embiid can overcome the injury issues that have plagued so many top-drafted centers before him.
Follow Metro Boston Sports Editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS