Opinion: You’re missing out if you don’t draft JoJo

I really doubt any NBA team will listen to word I have to say in this…

But if I know they would, I’d tell them they’re missing out on not drafting Joel Embiid.

JoJo is special and outside of Andrew Wiggins and maybe Jabari Parker, no one in this draft has a chance to be half as special as Embiid in this year’s draft.

If JoJo slips out of the top four picks of the draft, I’ll have a hard time believing these NBA GMs know what they’re doing. While Embiid hasn’t played basketball for many years, he has been physical while playing soccer and volleyball. So it’s not surprising he’s built up these stress fractures in his back and foot.

But he also hasn’t had access to the amazing strength and conditioning programs of the United States that he will in the NBA. Yes, he had them for one year at Kansas. But that’s just one year.

People keep bringing up Embiid’s “knee injury” that he suffered at TCU. It was only a slight sprain, something players get all the time. The play it happened on seemed serious because a day after it happened, doctors called Kansas officials saying it had to have been a torn ACL.

But he didn’t tear his ACL… Maybe he was lucky or perhaps he’s not as injury prone as everyone makes him out to be.

You can actually watch the play it happened on here.

(Sidenote: it’s a strange coincidence that the player that stepped in Embiid’s way and bumped knees with JoJo was Karviar Shepherd. Shepherd might have ended up at Kansas had Embiid not committed to the Jayhawks. Oh, and Embiid picked up a foul on that play. Bill Self wasn’t happy about that.)

The stress fracture looks to be completely healed from what I’ve seen of him in workouts recently.

I’m not even sure we’d be talking about Embiid’s back as an issue if Kansas didn’t stink it up in the second round of the NCAA tournament and lost to Stanford. If KU beats the Cardinal squad and Embiid comes back the next week, it’s possible KU would have even moved on to the Final Four.

Yes, the foot injury is a huge setback. I think the foot injury is more detrimental to Embiid than the back injury because it’s going to put him out of competition for a full NBA season. But players have come back from it in the past… players like Michael Jordan.

If Embiid and his camp didn’t know about the injury until Cleveland told them, it says to me that Embiid wasn’t actually hurting from this and it’s possible he even played most or all of the 2013-14 college basketball season with it.

Joel Embiid left college early because everyone told him to. As Bill Self said numerous times, Embiid really did want to come back to school for another year. As he said on Twitter back in March, he wanted to stay for four years and have a senior night.

But money rules everything and it forced Embiid to leave for the NBA.

And I don’t think that’s fair to Embiid at all. Even though Embiid will be a millionaire next week, I feel bad for Embiid. As fortunate as he is to have the basketball skills and yes, he will get paid handsomely… He’s had an unfortunate amount of bad luck.

He had to sit out the final six games of his college career because of his back injury. He missed a final chance to play in front of the Allen Fieldhouse crowd on senior night. He was unable to play in the Big 12 tournament. He couldn’t play in the only NCAA tournament of his career.

This latest injury will cost him enjoyment on what should be one of the happiest nights of his life… getting drafted by a professional sports team. He should have been the No. 1 overall pick. He can’t even go to the NBA Draft anymore.

That’s not fair to someone who has put in a lot of work to be where he is in life. And now, he has to listen to people like Jeff Goodman saying he’ll drop from No. 1 overall to double digits.

That’s cruel.

Yes it’s also unfortunate for the team that drafts him because he’ll sit out a year. But Cleveland has had three of the last four No. 1 picks and they’re still going to the lottery each year. Would it really be that bad to have another terrible season while Embiid gets healthy, get another lottery pick and Lebron decides to come back?

None of these players in the draft are going to be the saviors of these franchises in year one anyway. So why not take a risk (and each of these players are risks anyway) and draft Embiid who has the most upside in the draft?

Here’s an idea: draft Embiid, get him healthy, then hire someone to make sure he’ll continue to stay healthy by getting him on strength and conditioning programs that will minimize injuries.

I have a feeling any team (outside of whoever takes Wiggins or Parker) who passes on JoJo is going to be kicking themselves in a couple years when no one is talking about Embiid’s injuries anymore as he’s turned into one of the best centers in the league.

And they’ll be missing out.