After first announcing that Joel Embiid would just miss the final two games of the regular season for the Kansas Jayhawks, head coach Bill Self went on to say that he fully expected his No. 1 big man to be fine for the Big 12 Conference Tournament beginning on Wednesday. Apparently, that was either wishful thinking or flat-out delusional, as it now turns out that Embiid will certainly miss the entire Big 12 Tournament, as well as likely the first two games of the NCAA Tournament – provided the Jayhawks are able to win a couple of games in what has gone from March Madness to March Sadness in Lawrence.
One has to wonder whether or not Embiid will ever play for Kansas again. If the Jayhawks are able to survive and advance to the Sweet 16, will the potential No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft hurry back and put his future health and earnings at risk just to play another game or two? It is not as if he would truly increase his NBA stock all that much by playing a couple of NCAA Tournament games. As long as doctors give Embiid a clean bill of health following a stress fracture in his back, Embiid is still likely to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, provided he still decides to enter. He is, after all, just a freshman.
Big men who can score, rebound and alter shots are a hot commodity in the NBA, basically because they are few and far between. If Embiid does declare himself eligible for the 2014 NBA Draft, look for him to be the No. 1 pick.
Risking his health to come back and play one or two more games for the Jayhawks may not be worth it in the long run. Not for Embiid, at least.
Kansas may feel slightly different.