Posted February 06, 2014

Should Joel Embiid defer the NBA draft and remain at Kansas another year?

Freshmen watch, Kansas, NBA draft
Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid is considering staying in Kansas for his sophomore season. (Jamie Squire/Getty)

Joel Embiid reportedly is ambivalent about his impending NBA draft decision, but here’s a clearer decree: It’s always a good idea to go if you can’t benefit from staying. There are no picks better than No. 1 in any draft. There is virtually no shot that a 7-foot prospect likened to Hakeem Olajuwon isn’t selected in the first few picks.

Still, the Jayhawks’ freshman center told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Monday that he is “definitely considering coming back to school,” and even if it is early, the comments shouldn’t be ignored. In a way, they demonstrate that Embiid might be more ready than he knows.

Any team that selects Embiid will get a prodigious talent in his basketball infancy. As a result, there ought to be a long-range plan involving patience and teaching rather than demand for instant domination. But even if that is in place and well understood, Embiid will have his hand held only so much. His accountability for preparation and practice and conditioning and nutrition will ultimately be his own. He will be expected to act like a man and not a teenager.

If he realizes that, and that is part of his apprehension, he has a level of awareness that might better prepare him for what’s to come than other would-be one-and-done prospects. There may be anxiety about what’s to come, but at least Embiid knows it’s coming.

But if Embiid decides being a college kid for another year sounds fun, he’s entitled to make that choice and not be derided for it. Kansas fans may need bibs to collect their drool over the idea of Embiid and incoming five-star center Cliff Alexander patrolling the pain together. But it’s difficult to imagine that happening, because Embiid seems thoughtful enough to realize that his NBA stock won’t improve.

Consider last month’s comments from Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, as astute a judge of  NBA prospects as any coach in the country. “I think Embiid is the best player in the country,” Hoiberg deadpanned. “Did you see him play tonight? That’s why. He’s huge and he’s got great length and he can shoot and he’s got incredible footwork and he’s been playing the game for about two years.”

As Embiid considered his future Monday, he scored five points on 1-of-6 shooting against Baylor, his second straight game with single-digit scoring and iffy efficiency from the floor. He may be the No. 1 player chosen in the NBA Draft. In the mind of at least one coach, he should be considered the No. 1 player in the country. Still, he has a lot of work to do. Recognizing that might may mean, after all, that Embiid is prepared to move on.

10 comments
qt3dot14
qt3dot14

this guy is not ready for the nba.  if he comes out i hope my celtics get him though!

that being said he simply isnt tough enough yet to play a 100 game nba rugged schedule.


rookie contracts are not that big anymore.  the money is keeping your career going for more than 3 years and getting the big money down the line.  


as a rule your much better off being a seasoned adult coming out of college.  it keeps you from getting run over and burnt out in your first couple of years.  just look at bennett.

also if youre not mature you end up losing all the money anyway.

hes a kid and he knows it.  its definitely his choice, but if he stays he'll probably be much better off in the short and long run.


whether hes the first pick or the 10th pick, the moneys there and if he plays well the big money is there in a few years anyway.  plus if you drop a bit you get to generally for a better team to start .

and that can be worth a lot, both mentally and physically.


heaven help him if he comes out this year and ends up in cleveland.  that would instantly ruin his career.

RichClark
RichClark

Embiid should do what really feels right to him.  The talking heads and money worshipers are urging him to go to the NBA.  But that is just so they have someone to talk or write about.  Katz and the other talking head mush mouths are urging him to go to the NBA.  I think Wiggins and Embiid both should come back to school, to mature, toughen up and learn who is really interested in their future, not just being a parasite, a blood sucking worm, only wanting to make a buck off of their talents.

jimbobvaquero
jimbobvaquero

Embiid is considering staying not from a basketball stand-point, but from a life stand-point. There was an article a couple of weeks ago about how he doesn't even know how to drive a car. He said that, more or less, he wasn't ready to be a young millionaire.


If he stays, it's to get more used to U.S. culture and living in it. Also, he could probably put on 10-20 pounds in raw muscle with the help of KU's strength trainer Andrea Hudy. She has a reputation for changing people athletically. Imagine what she could do with a once a generation talent like Embiid.

J Diddy
J Diddy

If he's going to be a top 3 pick, he should go. Injuries and life happen. The NBA hype machine can be fickle, so if they're that high on him this year, he needs to take it. Somebody already mentioned Smart from Okie State... he'd have been a top 5 pick easily last year and now, after the scouts have had another year to pick him apart, he could fall out of the top 10. Embiid is still learning the game, and NBA teams will jump for the chance to be able to mold him. 


Wish him luck no matter what. He's an extraordinary talent.

muser
muser

Joel...You can be an NBA player for 15 years. You can only be a Jayhawk for at most, 4. Savor it. 

Tomeboy28
Tomeboy28

Look at Marcus Smart.  This kid would have been a top 2 pick last draft, possibly the number 1 pick overall.  He opted out of the NBA draft while he was on top of his game. Now this year he is doing a bit less (still good, but probably not #1 pick material) and in a field of competition that he will be lucky to go Top 5 this draft now maybe could fall out of the Top 10.  The pick number is proportional to the money you can earn in the NBA due to the CBA's rookie pay scale, so he will get less money or wait another year to get back to the top pick and get the money he could have signed for last year.  The only reason to wait is if Embiid is considering a career outside of pro-basketball.  If he wants the NBA, then he needs to sign the contract when he is at peak demand and media backing (which is now) and when the contract is on the table.  Next year, he can only risk having less media than now, having a slightly lesser performance like Smart,  or risk getting hurt and getting no contract offer at all.   What is the benefit of not going the draft if he wants a careeer in the NBA?   The NBA does not care if you have a bachelor's degree or not and your pay has nothing to do with your school work or NCAA career achievements. There is a pay scale and there is little chance he can go much higher going into a draft than he is predicted right now.  

DavidHarte
DavidHarte

If the kid enjoys school, and like Self, he should stay; if not, go pro.


But no one should be fooled about "professional" life in Cleveland….

Marsh the Great
Marsh the Great

While most freshman who hear murmurings of "#1 overall" would leave in a heartbeat, I think Embiid's case is a bit different, primarily because he's still fairly new to the game (IIRC, he's only been playing since 2011, not quite 3 years). He's obviously a prodigy of the game at the college level but I wonder if his lack of experience (and polish) won't be exploited by more savvy, trial-hardened players in the NBA. The sky really is the limit for this guy but if he doesn't think he's ready for the NBA yet then he really shouldn't be "forced" into the draft at this point. Of course, if he has a strong performance before scouts during the NCAA tournament in March, he may give his goodbyes on the spot after the last game. lol


That said, it's a bit of a shame that the Spurs won't get a chance at him in the draft because he would be a perfect heir to Tim Duncan and in the hands of one of the game's greatest coaches (and teachers) in Gregg Popovich. I don't think anybody is better at bringing out individual players' talents. While I would LOVE to see him in a Bulls uniform, they need scoring immediately and I don't think Embiid's that guy, at least not yet.

roysoldboy
roysoldboy

@jimbobvaquero  


I would say you are right about Hudy and Embiid and he really isn't  physically strong enough for the NBA centers yet.  I think he knows what Self has been saying about strength in his hands and from the past two games what will happen with those other "bigs"leaning on him.  His family doesn't need the money and he enjoys campus life and that should end the argument.  


I can't imagine what it will be like for him this spring with NBA people hanging around and trying to get him interested.

GlenMiller
GlenMiller

I agree to a certain extent. In year one the coaches and scouts are praising and elevating players. Usually when they come back, the second year they pick you apart. That's what is happening to Smart. That being said, I do think that a kid only 3 years into even playing the sport might gain a little more patience. I think that if he were to stay, he would be able to let his body mature and his knowledge expand. At Kansas he will not be short on coaching or nutrition as we have some if the best coaches and trainers in the country. He will get to practice against top notch players at Kansas and probably log more playing minutes. Staying another year would only make him a better player as coach Self is a great mentor and developer. If he were to go to the NBA he might be playing against better talent night in and night out, but he might not log the game minutes. He also would be rushed along as most players are. I think either way he wants to go would be fine and if he wants to stay as a fan, I would be happy to see him dawn KU blue for one more year! If he goes then I wish him luck and will instantly be a fan of the team he joins because he has played his butt off and been very humble at KU. He has represented his school with pride and respect.