Joel Embiid is apparently recovered from a back injury, and the potential No. 1 overall NBA draft pick is looking so impressive in workouts that some are comparing him to Hakeen Olajuwon.
The former Kansas big man was plagued for most of the season with a nagging back injury. After tweaking his back on February 8 against West Virginia, Embiid again aggravated the injury against Oklahoma State on March 1.
Embiid would miss the rest of the season, but reports now say he is back and ready to take on the NBA.
A recently released video of Joel Embiid going through a pre-draft workout shows that could be an understatement.
In the two-minute video, Embiid shows off his versatile skills and soft maneuvering for a 7-footer. He demonstrates some good footwork at the rim, dunking with ease, but also shows that he can pull back and hit mid-range jumpers.
The skill set was earning Embiid some lofty comparisons.
Hakeem Olajuwon was born 51 years ago today, but he is currently being reincarnated in Lawrence,Kansas #Embiid
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) January 21, 2014
Joel Embiid showed only a flash of his potential during his only season at Kansas. He averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in 23 minutes per game, shooting 62.6 percent from the floor.
A number of NBA insiders, including ESPN Insider Chad Ford, have now indicated that Embiid’s back problems are gone now. After the impressive workout, many have Embiid climbing draft boards as well.
Watching Joel Embiid in workout for league executives in Santa Monica. Impossible to imagine passing on him at No. 1.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 23, 2014
NBA scouts seem to agree. One unnamed scout told SB Nation, “If healthy, I’m taking him no. 1 and it’s not even close.”
Many believe the Cleveland Cavaliers couldn’t possibly pass up on Embiid.
“Joel Embiid is going to be the first pick of the 2014 draft,” Grantland’s Bill Simmons wrote prior to Tuesday’s lottery. “Don’t let anyone tell you differently…Unless Embiid’s pre-draft MRI reveals a career-threatening back issue (doubtful), NOBODY is passing on a franchise center.”