Just a week before the draft, news broke that Joel Embiid needed surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. This will ultimately make him lose a ton of guaranteed money in his rookie contract, because it may mean he slides outside of the Top 3. Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are now the clear top two players in the draft, and Embiid is at the mercy of NBA GMs now.
The Sixers could gamble on him at #3, however I think they will now select Dante Exum with the third pick. Philly waited an entire season for Nerlens Noel however, so it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that they would wait four to six months on an even better prospect. Embiid has been compared to Hakeem Olajuwan in multiple ways, however before even stepping onto a court, he is already getting the injury prone label from some GMs. Wherever he goes, I doubt he will slip past either the Celtics or Lakers at selections six and seven.
Joel Embiid Draft Position (5)
Bodog has Embiid’s over/under set at 5 currently, which would be to the Jazz. The under is where the chalk is at -140, while if he were to be in the top four, it would be an even money wager at +100. Neither of these look valuable to me, but depending on how bold the Jazz are at 5, this could be a push wager. The Jazz have probably been shopping Enes Kanter, and they could really use an upgrade to pair alongside the young and budding Derrick Favors. To me this wager is a no-play, because the Jazz at five might be exactly where Embiid ends up.
My Pick: No Play
Dante Exum Draft Position (3 ½)
As I mentioned above, I think the Embiid injury gives the Sixers enough of a push to pass on him at #3 (they also hold the #10 pick, and if Embiid were to fall that far, the Sixers automatically win the draft) and draft Exum instead. The NBA Odds from Bovada has the over at -110, and even though it wouldn’t be conventional, it would be a “best player available,” move for Sam Hinkie and Philadelphia.
I know what you’re probably thinking; “Michael Carter-Williams just won the rookie of the year, and is the point guard of the future in the City of Brotherly Love!” You’d be right on the former. MCW did put up impressive numbers as a rookie. However the field was shallow, he played on a horrible team, and some think his numbers were derived more from all the garbage time than actual skill. Carter-Williams is going to be a pretty good player, but he is not very strong and he currently can’t shoot. Exum doesn’t exactly have a jump shot either, but a report published today by Chad Ford suggests that the Sixers will not pass on Exum at #3 if he is still there. Assuming Cleveland and Milwaukee take Parker and Wiggins, this would make for some great value Thursday night if you can get the Bovada number at 3 ½ still. Take the over, because it looks as if the lowest Exum will go is #3.
My Pick: OVER 3 ½ (-110)
Julius Randle Draft Position (7)
My final play on Bovada will be Julius Randle. The 19-year old has been compared to Zach Randolph because not only is Randle a lefty, but he exhibits some of the same attributes in his physical style of play. However I am not convinced Randle has Randolph-type upside. Z-bo does two things extremely well that Randle has yet to show, and may never will.
First, Z-bo has the very unique ability to finish down low consistently without being very athletic at all. Randolph’s build and unique ability to finish off balance shots without jumping very high makes him very tough to defend. Secondly, Randolph developed a very consistent jump shot from 18-20 feet away from the basket during the first few years of his career, which added yet another phase to his game. Could Randle turn into a guy that gets 15 points and 10 rebounds every night? Sure.
However, is that worth a top 7 pick in a pretty stacked draft? I don’t think GMs are willing to take a bite. If you count Parker as a power forward, there are at least three power forwards that are ahead of Randle on most team’s big boards. Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh should both be taken ahead of Randle, and if that’s the case, Randle’s NBA Odds on the under at +100 is a steal of a value. I think #7 to the Lakers is as high as he would go, and that’s assuming Embiid is off the board when the Lakers pick at 7.
My Pick: UNDER 7 (+100)