21 - Joel Embiid

7-0, 250 Center
Kansas Freshman
03/16/94 (29.7 yrs)
Yaounde, Cameroon
High School
The Rock
Team Site Profile
Jump Shot
NBA Ready
Post Skills

NBA Comparison: Tim Duncan/Akeem Olajuwon

Strengths: The sculpted Embiid has a prototypical body for an NBA center, standing 7 feet tall, with a 7.5-foot reach, and weighing 250 pounds. He could use more muscle, but his frame should have no trouble bearing the additional bulk … Posted outstanding per-40-minutes numbers in his lone season at Kansas, averaging 19.4 points, 14 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks … An agile and mobile center, with nimble feet, good speed, great quickness, and vertical explosiveness … Excellent around the rim, scoring regularly on put-backs and alley opps.  According to, Embiid made 76.3 percent of his attempts at the rim this past season…  His offensive game is still a work in progress, but the potential is there.  His offensive arsenal includes very quick drop-steps, jump hooks, and turn-around jumpers … Uses a variety of ball and body fakes to create space for his shot, including the renowned “Dream Shake.” … Draws a bunch of fouls (8.8 per 40 minutes), and makes a respectable 69 percent of his free-throw attempts … An active and aggressive weak-side defender …  Covers a lot of ground with his length and huge strides … Stats don’t tell the full story – on the defensive end, he alters a number of shots and is generally disruptive … Not timid – willing to put a body on someone and mix it up in the paint …  Sets solid screens … Doesn’t panic when double teamed …
Weaknesses:  Embiid had trouble staying on the floor, either due to injuries or foul trouble.  In a total of 28 games at KU, he played fewer than 20 minutes 10 times and more than 30 minutes only three times … Questionable durability – this past season, he missed one game (Feb. 15) due to a knee injury, played in the four following games, and then was shut down for the rest of the year due to a stress fracture in his lower back. He also dealt with lower back issues as a senior in high school … Averaged a whopping 5.9 fouls per 40 minutes at KU … Lacks both offensive and defensive awareness … Averaged 4.2 turnovers per 40 minutes at KU …  Defensively, he frequently focuses too much on the ball and loses track of his man … Was at times pushed off the block by bigger centers … Seems to get frustrated when not heavily involved in the offense or not making his shots.  At those times, his play appears to be a bit lackadaisical …
Notes:  Was named to the 2013-14 Associated Press All-America Second Team and also named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year … Set the KU freshman record with 72 blocked shots. Also set KU freshman records in field goal percentage (62.6) and rebounds per game (8.1) … Finished second in the Big 12 in blocks (2.6 per game) and sixth in rebounds per game … Was not tested much in the undersized Big 12 conference, and when he was, the results were relatively subpar.  In a total of five games vs. the big front lines of Texas, Baylor and New Mexico, plus one game against the muscular Patrick Young and Florida, Embiid shot 50 percent from the field and averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, and 24 minutes per game … Began playing basketball at one of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s basketball camps in Cameroon when he was 16 years old …  Speaks three languages: English, French, and Bassa (the native language of Cameroon)…
Outlook: The optimist looks at Embiid and thinks of his outstanding per-40 stats, while the pessimist thinks about the fact that he missed 20 percent of Jayhawks’ games and averaged less the 24 minutes per outing when he was out there. The optimist thinks about Embiid’s skill level despite his lack of experience and drools over what he could become in 3-4 years, while the pessimist worries that Embiid has just as much of a chance to become the next Greg Oden as he does the next Hakeem Olajuwon … Almost no one expects Embiid to fall further than third overall in the draft.  Exactly where he is selected will come down to his private workouts and medical examinations. He worked out for Cleveland last week, and the subsequent media reports were conflicting to say the least. It is fairly safe to say that the Cavs didn’t promise to take Embiid with the first overall selection because he is headed to Milwaukee later this week … As for the Sixers, who hold the third overall pick, Embiid is not currently to scheduled to meet with them, or if he is, it has not yet been reported …

Richard Harris 6/17/14

Strengths: A seven footer with an exceptionally high ceiling…  What is most striking about Embiid is how advanced his game is given that he reportedly only started playing basketball in 2011. The former volleyball and soccer player is clearly a naturally gifted athlete, and his length and fluidity both translate very well to basketball…  He keeps good balance offensively both with his back to the basket and, more impressively, facing the hoop…  His body control and lateral movement for a seven footer are both exceptional…  Although his leaping ability is somewhat average, Embiid is able to dunk the ball between his legs with ease — a testament to his body control and good hands… Offensively, Embiid’s game is quickly expanding, but he can already score in a variety of ways.  Going forward, he will likely rely on mid-range jumpers and back to the basket post moves.  However, he is already confident taking face up shots out to the college three point line with decent (but not great) form.  While at Kansas it will be interesting to see if Bill Self expands on this aspect of his game or (more likely) asks him to be strictly an interior presence…  Embiid’s post game is a work in progress, but he does show the ability to take short jump hooks off of a clean drop step with good balance…  Embiid possesses very good hands and a soft touch, both on the catch and his shot…  He is a willing passer — he mentioned in an interview with a Kansas recruiting site that he believes passing is a strength to his game.

Weaknesses: As with most high school seven footers, there is plenty for Embiid to work on…  Embiid’s moves are fluid, but can be slow, especially vertically.  He is not an especially quick leaper, and spends a long time gathering himself before jumping… Embiid could use some work keeping the ball high in the post, and keeping his hands high in general, especially for shot blocking and rebounding purposes — not especially difficult to do, just takes practice… Should polish his back-to-the-basket moves…  His frame is very good for a 17 year old, but he will need to continue to work on his body and strength to compete physically in the post at the next level…  You would like to see him develop more of a "beast mode," or nasty streak, as many great centers have…  He reportedly averaged only 1.9 blocks per game his senior season at the Rock School in Gainesville, Florida, which is difficult to imagine given his great length and athleticism.  He should pursue shot blocking opportunities more actively, as well as improve his timing… To this same point, Embiid should focus on being very loud defensively and becoming an "anchor" a la Kevin Garnet, Tyson Chandler, and other impact defensive bigs.  He is in a unique position where he possesses the physical tools to do so.

Notes:  Embiid, whose father was a professional team handball player, grew up playing volleyball and soccer in his central-western African home country of Cameroon…  Will play his college ball at University of Kansas under Bill Self.  He will begin his college career with only two years of organized basketball under his belt, and is likely to spend at least a couple of years developing in school before declaring for the NBA draft.

Drew Wolin 4/24/2013

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