Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I know my job title reads "fantasy writer" but sometimes I can't help but put on my GM hat.
I'm looking at you, Milwaukee Bucks.
I see you looking at University of Kansas center Joel Embiid. Trust me, you don't want to be barking up that tree.
The Bucks, losers of eight of their last ten and 40 of 49 games overall, are the overwhelming favorites to land the No. 1 pick, if such a thing is possible in the lottery era. Remember, the worst team still only has a 25 percent chance of getting the top pick.
Either way, I believe there are a number of reasons why the Bucks should be looking elsewhere at No. 1. One of those reasons is the fact that Milwaukee already has two talented centers in John Henson and Larry Sanders. Plus they have Zaza Pachulia, a guy the Bucks owe $15 million over the next three seasons.
Any way you slice it, center is not Milwaukee's most pressing need.
But that's neither here nor there. Even if the Bucks did need a talented big man, I'm not sure Embiid would be the man for the job.
Really, I'm not sure there is a man for the job.
I'm not saying the center position is becoming extinct, though some writers have made that argument (Exhibit A: the NBA has eliminated center as a position for All-Star voting, instead giving fans the option to vote for three "front court" players). I just think wasting a top-five pick on Embiid might not be the smartest investment.
In the nine drafts that have occurred since 2005, 20 centers have been drafted in the top-ten. Of those 20, only four (Andrew Bynum, Al Horford, Brook Lopez and Joakim Noah) have gone on to become All-Stars. That's not a very high success rate.
And many of those 20 players I alluded to have been spectacular busts. Greg Oden's career is hanging on by a thread while Patrick O'Bryant's is already over (last played in 2010 with Toronto). Even Hasheem Thabeet hasn't shown us much in his five seasons in the league (2.2 ppg in 209 appearances).
Andrew Bogut and Andrea Bargnani (if you consider him a center) are still around but time has proven that neither one should have been a top-ten pick.
Even in today's era of one-and-dones, it's important to keep in mind that not everyone makes it. Of the 540 players drafted since 2005, a mere 26 have appeared in an All-Star Game. That number should improve in a few years when Michael Carter-Williams and others finally reach their full potential but until then, we are left with a miserable 4.8 percent rate of success.
It would probably be an exaggeration to suggest that all centers have underperformed since 2005. In fact, since that '05 Draft, six centers have gone to the All-Star Game compared to just five power forwards, three small forwards and three shooting guards. Point guards have run rampant, racking up nine All-Star nods in that span.
More often than not, the centers that survive in today's increasingly offensive game are the ones that can put the ball in the net. DeMarcus Cousins (22.7 ppg) and Anthony Davis (20.5 ppg), a pair of All-Star snubs this season, fit this profile perfectly.
And that's what worries me most about Embiid. His scouting report is alarmingly similar to the one Hasheem Thabeet had coming out of UConn in 2009. Both are huge, relatively new to the sport, and neither one is polished offensively. In 22 games, Embiid's career-high in points is only 18.
To me, the best case scenario is that Embiid develops into something like an Andre Drummond: a big, bruising big man who can average ten and ten.
Worst case? Thabeet, a guy with cool hair who sits at the end of Oklahoma City's bench.
Everybody thinks they need a franchise center, yet the defending World Champion Miami Heat (edit: TWO-time defending World Champion) don't have a single one on its roster.
So there goes that theory.
If you're the Bucks, why not just go with a sure-thing like Jabari Parker (18.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg) or Andrew Wiggins (15.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg)?
Embiid is big, nasty and probably deserves to go in the top-ten. But No. 1 overall? I don't think so.
It's your funeral, Milwaukee.
Of course, if the Bucks don't win the lottery, none of this matters anyway.
And there's always the possibility that Embiid will return to Kansas for his sophomore season. But who does that anymore?
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