Since being drafted as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has succeeded to turn himself into one of the most dominant big men in the league. As of now, Embiid is viewed as the player that would lead the Sixers back to the NBA Finals and end their decades of title drought. However, before he set foot in the NBA and became an official member of the Sixers, it was revealed that Embiid tried to convince another NBA team to get his service.
In a recent article, Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report reported that before the 2014 NBA Draft, Embiid, who belonged to the Cleveland Cavaliers, had been one of the top favorites to be selected as the No. 1 overall pick. Embiid had reportedly left a good impression in his workout with the Cavaliers, from dominating in the post and showing his strength under the basket to knocking down mid-range jumpers and three-point shots.
Then-Cavaliers general manager David Griffin had reportedly described Embiid’s performance as the best workout he had ever seen and went as far as saying that he was like “the second coming of Hakeem.” After his workout, one of Embiid’s agents during that time, Francois Nyam, said that they got an assurance from Griffin that they would be taking him at No. 1.
Unfortunately, everything had dramatically changed when Embiid suffered a thin stress fracture in the middle of his right foot. Knowing that Embiid would be on the sideline for a long period of time, the Cavaliers had decided to look at another prospect, Andrew Wiggins. Meanwhile, the Sixers, who owned the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, saw it as an opportunity to add a generational talent on their roster.
“Sixers staffers, watching a draft workout from the sidelines that morning at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, were giddy as they passed the information along to one another. The team hadn’t met with Embiid. But a few weeks earlier general manager Sam Hinkie had attended a workout put on by Embiid’s agents in Santa Monica. He and his staff had also scouted enough of Embiid’s games to recognize what it was that Griffin and the Cavaliers saw. Later that day, Hinkie visited coach Brett Brown’s office. ‘Embiid got injured in Cleveland today,’ he said. ‘He might be available to us (at No. 3).'”
Though it took two years for Embiid to fully recover from the injury, the veteran center continues to prove that the Sixers made the right decision to draft him. After years of tanking, Embiid has helped turn the Sixers from one of the worst NBA teams in the league to a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference. So far, the Sixers are considered as a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference but in order to have a better chance of winning the NBA championship title, they still need to add more players who complement franchise cornerstones Embiid and Ben Simmons.