By Art Beitchman, DOCBLOG
Thursday’s NBA draft had been highly anticipated in Philly already. But with the foot fracture of top prospect Joel Embiid, the 7-foot center from Kansas, the drama with the top three picks is suddenly off the charts. Reports are that the stress fracture will take Embiid 4-to-6 months to heal, making December the month he’ll be able to start practicing again, which is not too long a wait.
Here are three scenarios the 76ers might take.
Select Embiid at 3. If he’s still available after Cleveland and Milwaukee pick, wait the six months of healing time and pair him with Nerlens Noel on a formidable front line they haven’t had in decades. Then take Nik Stauskas, shooting guard from Michigan at 10.
Move up to 1. Give the Cavs Thad Young (pay his $9 million salary), the third pick and a second-round pick and draft Andrew Wiggins, the 6-8 Kansas superstar, with the first overall pick and get the player they’ve wanted all along. Then draft Adreian Payne, a power forward from Michigan State, with the 10th pick.
Stay at 3 and take swingman Dante Exum; either move down or hope Kentucky power forward Julius Randle drops to 10, and select him.
Of course, there are probably 10 more angles that only Sam Hinkie knows for sure.
If I were picking I would sell out to get Wiggins at No. 1 and Stauskas at 10 and have a shooting guard and small forward starting for years to come.
If the Cavs take Wiggins, then I take Exum with the third pick, and either Randle or Payne at 10, and again be set at two positions.
Whichever way it plays out, the Sixers are holding quite a few cards going into a draft that could make them a perennial winner — if they play those cards right.