Should the Sacramento Kings draft Joel Embiid if he falls to No. 8?

Joel Embiid of Kansas rises up for a jam. (Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America)

Joel Embiid’s chances of being selected first overall in this year’s draft took a major blow today.  As first reported by Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, the Cameroonian center has suffered right foot injury, leaving his status one week before the NBA Draft in question.

Embiid’s agent, Arn Tellem, told ESPN.com that the injury occurred “sometime over the last few days”.  Tellem later sent out a statement to multiple reporters announcing the injury as a stress fracture and that Embiid would have surgery on Friday.

This is not the first time the 7-foot center out of Kansas has suffered a health scare before this year’s draft.  The 20-year-old big man suffered a stress fracture during his one season as a Jayhawk that forced him to miss the NCAA Tournament.  He also dealt with a sprained knee.

Embiid is a tantalizing talent who has only played organized basketball for the last three years.   In the very little time he’s played the game, Embiid has already evoked comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon due to his defensive instincts and natural feel for the game.  However, there will likely be concerns about his long-term viability considering the health issues he currently faces even before he’s played in his first professional game.

The game is void these days of centers who can do all the things that Embiid can do.  He has proven he can defend at a high level while also showing steady growth on the offensive side of the ball.  His footwork on offense is nimble for a player his size, hence the comparisons to Olajuwon.

But while there is a chance he could be the next Olajuwon, there’s also a possibility Embiid could be the next Greg Oden.  Like Embiid, 26-year-old center entered the draft as a gifted prospect, garnering comparisons to David Robinson because of his athleticism combined with his defensive prowess for a player his size.  But knee injuries have plagued him throughout his entire career, preventing him from reaching his full potential.

The Sacramento Kings could certainly use a player with Embiid’s talent.  DeMarcus Cousins is certainly capable of sliding over to power forward to make room at center for the 20-year-old prospect.  Having averaged 2.6 blocks in 23.1 minutes per game last season for Kansas, Embiid would immediately address the Kings’ need for a solid rim protector.

It would be shocking for Embiid, who was projected on many mock drafts to be selected first before Thursday’s news, to fall to the Kings at the No. 8 pick.  However, a precipitous slide would not be unprecedented.  Look at last year’s draft as an example when Nerlens Noel, who many experts projected would go first overall, fell all the way to No. 6 to the New Orleans Pelicans.  Even Ben McLemore, who the Kings took seventh overall, was thought to be a lock as a top three pick in 2013.  With millions of dollars on the line for franchises in the lottery, checkered health histories have proven to be enough to scare teams away from players with immense talent.

Should Embiid slide all the way to the No. 8 pick, what should the Kings do?  If you were in their shoes, would you take a chance on Embiid?  Or, would you pass and make a safer bet?  Vote in the poll below.

If Joel Embiid is available with the No. 8 pick on the clock, what should the Kings do?

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Updated at 12:45 pm

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.