Joel Embiid was widely expected to be the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, but the Kansas center was hit with a terrible blow this week. He has a stress fracture in his right foot and on Friday he underwent surgery to repair it. Now Embiid is expected to be out for four to six months.
Embiid’s agent, Arn Tellem, said in a statement that his client had surgery at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute. The 20-year-old reportedly tolerated the surgery without issue and Tellem claims there are no concerns about his long-term future, though this is the second major injury he has dealt with after dealing with a bad back during his only collegiate season.
Tellem had the following to say about the surgery:
“Two screws were inserted into the navicular bone in Joel Embiid’s right foot. The surgery went very well and I’m confident that after appropriate healing he will be able to return to NBA basketball.”
Embiid reportedly wowed the Cleveland Cavaliers in a workout earlier this month and the team’s doctors had cleared him fully. But this latest setback came after he met with them. Now it is unlikely he will be the top pick and he has probably fallen into the middle of the top 10. The highest he is likely to go now is third overall, and could fall as far as eighth.
Navicular bone injuries have devastated the careers of NBA big men in the past. Yao Ming famously missed 159 games before retiring after suffering the same injury. Bill Walton and Eric Montross both missed 82 games and retired as the result of the navicular bone injuries as well. That doesn’t bode well for Embiid, and it’s no wonder teams are backing off of him rapidly.
Embiid is an outstanding talent and has been compared favorably to Hakeem Olajuwon. But suffering back and foot injuries before even stepping on an NBA court clouds his future considerably.