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The Boston Celtics have had a season to forget in 2013-14. With four games remaining, the Celts own a 24-55 record, which is good for fourth worst in the NBA. The Celts did receive the potentially good news on Wednesday, April 9 that Kansas Jayhawks freshman star Joel Embiid officially declared for the NBA draft. It was rumored that Embiid was contemplating a return to Kansas for his sophomore season. With those rumors now to put to rest, should the Celtics be interested in the services of Embiid with the Draft approaching?
Embiid is a true seven footer with not only an NBA body, but also great athleticism and length. There have been college basketball and ESPN analysts who have compared Embiid to the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon. Embiid is projected to be a top three pick in June’s draft, and on many mock drafts is the number one overall pick. The Celtics right now are projected to have the fourth selection, but if they land the top pick or have a chance to draft Embiid at any point in the top five, should they?
Since 2000, there have only been two centers drafted in the top five who have lived up to their hype: Dwight Howard (2004, #1 pick) and Anthony Davis (2012, #1 pick). There have been many more cases of centers that were drafted in the top five being busts: Kwame Brown (2001, #1), Eddy Curry (2001, #4), Nikoloz Tskitishvili (2002, #5), Darko Miličić (2002, #2), Shelden Williams (2006, #5), Greg Oden (2007, #1) and Hasheem Thabeet (2009, #2).
The NBA has evolved to the point where a dominant center is no longer needed to contend for a title. The Miami Heat, who has won the last two titles, and Oklahoma City Thunder are two major contenders to win the 2014 NBA Championship, and neither team has a dominant center.
Should the Celtics draft Embiid anywhere in the top five? The answer to this question is no. Embiid has only been playing basketball for four years, as he played soccer for over 10 years. Embiid is most likely not going to help out any team immediately, and will be a so-called “project.” Embiid is receiving all the hype of being the next great big man to be in the NBA, but he could very well be a bust like many centers in the past.
The Celts would be much better off drafting Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Dante Exum or Jabari Parker (if he declares for the Draft) in the top five. If the Celts end up picking sixth or seventh, and Embiid is still on the board, then he would be worth the gamble. A gamble is exactly what he is.