Joel Embiid: Foot Surgery Could Cause Top Prospect To Fall In NBA Draft

Joel Embiid had two screws inserted into his foot on Friday after suffering an injury. Embiid will need four to six months to recover, putting his status as the top prospect in the upcoming NBA draft into question.

Embiid’s agent, Ern Tellem, said that the 7-foot center came out of the procedure without any difficulty. He also relayed a statement from the surgeon, Dr. Richard Ferkel, who said Joel Embiid should be able to return to action.

“Two screws were inserted into the navicular bone in Joel Embiid’s right foot,” Ferkel said in the statement released by Tellem. “The surgery went very well and I’m confident that after appropriate healing he will be able to return to NBA basketball. Joel tolerated the surgery without difficulty and will begin his rehabilitation in the near future.”

The Kansas big man had risen to the top of draft charts with strong workouts in the past few weeks. Scouts compared him to Hakeem Olajuwon, a nimble big man with a soft touch and the ability to score away from the basket.

Although it may not affect his long-term prospects, the injury might cause Joel Embiid to sink down the draft board. The Cleveland Cavaliers had once been high on Embiid and were projected to take him with their No. 1 pick, but now seem to have changed their mind. ESPN Insider‘s Chad Ford reported that it is “highly likely” the team goes in a different direction with the pick.

Embiid had already been battling a stigma as an injury-prone player. He missed a large stretch of the last college season due to an injured back.

Experts had also noted that Embiid’s injury status could be the only thing dropping him down the NBA draft board.

“Joel Embiid is going to be the first pick of the 2014 draft,” Grantland’s Bill Simmons wrote before the draft lottery was held. “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.”

If he does fall far in the draft, Embiid may have no recourse to recoup his lost money, ESPN reported. He has a $5 million total disability policy purchased through the University of Kansas, the school’s athletic director Jim Marchiony noted. This does not allow for loss-of-value insurance, a policy that allows athletes to collect if they fall out of their projected draft position due to injury.

Embiid was also unable to work out for the Milwaukee Bucks, who hold the No. 2 pick.

But Joel Embiid may not fall too far. He participated in an individual workout for NBA scouts earlier this month, where he was reportedly impressive. He is still seen by most scouts as one of the top three prospects, along with Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins and Duke guard Jabari Parker.