Joel Embiid has a foot injury. What does that mean to the Milwaukee Bucks?


Wiggins and Embiid. Could the Bucks pass on them both? (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Wiggins and Embiid. Could the Bucks pass on them both? (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Joel Embiid has a stress fracture in his right foot. He won’t be working out in Milwaukee. He might fall out of the top five. He definitely has shaken up the plans of teams with a top pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

Naturally, this is the first draft in quite some time in which the Milwaukee Bucks are one of those teams with a top pick. Days ago, it seemed more and more likely that the Bucks would end up with Duke’s Jabari Parker at the number two spot. Alas, Parker is now in contention for the number one pick.

So where does that leave the Milwaukee Bucks?

When Embiid started wowing personnel folks in late May, it looked like the Bucks would be choosing from the trio of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum. But it was less clear who among them would most grab the Bucks. Virtually every draft reporter cradled every statement about what the Bucks might do with something like, “… but they like all four guys, so who knows what will happen.” Now, the Bucks will still have three players available to them, but one will be the hobbled Embiid, and the consensus seems to be that the Bucks are in no position to take a huge risk and select Embiid with a top five pick.

Reports today have also indicated that the Cavs most fancy Parker now that Embiid’s out of their picture. In that scenario, the Bucks would be left to choose between Wiggins and Exum.

But the Bucks taking Exum with the number two selection seems highly unlikely as well. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t end up with Exum, it’s just hard to believe the Bucks would remain at two and take Exum, rather than trade back a spot in an attempt to get something of value out of the Sixers, who so desperately want Andrew Wiggins, if reports are correct.

So this really presents the Bucks with two options:

1. Select Andrew Wiggins with the number two pick

To be fair, if the Cavs, famously erratic around the draft, opted to trade the pick or take Wiggins number one, we could just as easily toss Parker’s name in this sub-headline. But if Wiggins is the guy who landed with the Bucks at number two, it would be a bit comical that things had to go wrong for the Bucks to end up with the guy most fans seem to want.

It seems like most Bucks fans would take Wiggins over Embiid, even if both were healthy and Milwaukee were picking first overall. But at this point, relying on reports, Wiggins seemed a distant third, if not fourth on Milwaukee’s draft board before Embiid’s news broke (no pun intended). From the sound of it, there’s almost no way Milwaukee would select Wiggins over Parker or a healthy Embiid, but the big man’s bad foot seems to open the door for Parker to move up, which could force Milwaukee’s hand.

He may not be the most ready, but he would please the most people in Milwaukee and make for a very athletic, very intriguing wing tandem with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

2. Trade down to get the number three pick and select Dante Exum

Do the Bucks go for the great mystery yet again? A year after selecting Antetokounmpo based on workouts and a few grainy tapes against low level competitiors in Greece, the Bucks could again take a player that the general public knows very little about. We wrote about how Exum stacks up with his competitors earlier today and at length a while back, but still, very little is known about how Exum plays basketball.

One would hope the Bucks, having interviewed him in Chicago and seen him work out in Milwaukee, do have a bit more knowledge to go off than us regular schlubs do, but even so, they can’t have seen him play too much five-on-five.

Are the Bucks daring enough to grab Exum? (Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty)
Are the Bucks daring enough to grab Exum? (Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty)

If selecting Embiid is now too poisonous to consider, solely from a PR standpoint, then taking Exum hardly seems much better. Yes, he’ll be able to play and he has the sorts of measurements that impress on paper, but the Bucks would HAVE to pass on Parker or Wiggins, two guys who thrilled college basketball fans last season, to take him.

Not that the Bucks have looked to curry PR favor when making draft picks lately. Joe Alexander had one good year at West Virginia when his athleticism wooed the Bucks. Brandon Jennings had spent a year in Italy missing shots before he strolled onto the stage (late) in 2010. And Larry Sanders proved he could block a shot at VCU, but that was about all he had proved in the handful of years he spent playing basketball before his selection.

The difference between the picks that landed Alexander, Jennings, Sanders, Giannis and now? Now the Bucks have a top five pick. The top five is the cool table. That’s where the superstars wait for limos to pick them up and escort them to the rooms with hot tubs full of champagne. Everything is first class and expectations are sky high with a top five pick. Top five picks are supposed to change a franchise. Top five picks aren’t supposed to be risky players. They aren’t supposed to be Michael Olowakandi. They aren’t supposed to be Andrea Bargnani. Risks are a bad thing in the top five.

Bet that Milwaukee has superstar on the brain. That’s the lens John Hammond has to be viewing this draft through. He’s said time and time again that he recognizes the importance of a top five pick. He knows this is his big chance. Would he really take a risk on Exum over Wiggins with an opportunity he’ll likely never have again? It’s hard to believe. Unless Exum started tossing in Skyhooks from 50-feet last Saturday, it really seems unlikely that the Bucks would grab him over one of the most sought after recruits in recent memory.

Coming into this draft the Bucks wanted to get a superstar and they aren’t going to let Joel Embiid’s foot change that plan. Will it be Parker, Wiggins or Exum? I don’t know. I’m not sure they know either. But back at the Cousins Center Hammond is sitting down with his team, organizing all of the information they’ve gathered up to this point and plotting out the future of the Milwaukee Bucks. That’s a tough job.

A tough job that didn’t get any easier on Thursday.

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  1. I’m probably in the minority here, but I could care less about a stress fracture in his foot. Rumor has it that the Bucks and Cavs swapped med records of Embiid and Parker. If true and the Bucks are comfortable with his back they should draft him if he was at the top of their board before the foot issue.

    Allowing a recent foot injury completely change your draft strategy during a rebuild is short sighted at best.

    • I agree and do not believe it should change the Bucks draft board if the other medical reports are clear. Next year is a growth season for a young Bucks team. Embiid can take his time to recover back to 100% (a la Noel).

      On the other hand, big men with injuries scare me. A lot.

    • Embiid has played 4 years of organized basketball, 28 games at Kansas and maybe 90ish more in high school (total guesstimate)..and so far he has had two knee injuries, a back injury and now a foot fracture that has ended the careers of Yao, Walton, and others. How in the world will his body hold up in an 82 game NBA season if he cant make it through high school & college seasons and a pre draft work out.

      • correct me if I am mistaken, but I am not sure that he played much basketball in high school ??

  2. Don’t overthink this. Take Parker or Wiggins. They have not been the most sought after recruits for nothing.

  3. Still Wiggins for me. The last thing the Bucks need is another boring Grant Hill type player. Yes Parker will probably average 20 points and maybe be an all star a year or two, but Wiggins can be so much more. HAVE to pick Wiggins. He’s going to light the league on fire very soon.

    • Grant Hill was amazing before his injuries. Far better than Glenn Robinson. He was a beast offensively and he picked up quick to become a near lockdown defender. I’d take Grant Hill number 1 if he was available in this draft.

        • Grant Hill who was a small forward. Averaged 21ppg 9 rpg 7.5 apg in his third year. Years 1-6 were around these numbers. I was a Big Dog fan. But there is no denying Grant Hill was by far the better pick. Hill was a far superior defender and had a better all around game. Had a Healthy Hill been on the Bucks roster, they would have been playoff and contender (especially considering Hill and Baker in a P&R combo) in 95-96 up until his sickess/injury in 2000. I loved Big Dog and for years I denied Grant Hill was better. He was. He was FAR better. He was LeBron James before injury, a better defender at that.

  4. Well, you certainly can’t take Embiid.

    A lower back stress fracture after just 20 college games? Then a broken foot simply working out at a pre draft shoot around? How in the hell will Embiid stand up to NBA 82 game schedule against the best in the world? Didn’t Andrew Bogut teach us anything? Some bodies are not meant for the rigours of professional sports.

    If Parker is there … take him. If Wiggins is there …. take him. Let’s move on please!!!

    • Boguts injuries were pretty FREAK injuries if anything. You can’t say he can’t handle the NBA. I remember that injury because I remember my heart sinking so deep it came out my asshole and I was dragging it around for weeks. Boguts big arm injury was a freak injury. No one could have survived that fall the way he fell. Bogut was an amazing pick at number 1, I’d much rather have seen Chris Paul. Just like I wish Bucks woulda took Jason Kidd. Oh well.

  5. Unless you have Greg Popovich coming through the door, Embiid can’t be the pick for the Bucks. Lebron’s Heat, Durant’s Thunder, Griffin’s Clippers. The list goes on. To win in today’s NBA, you need a stud wing. Yes I know the Spurs are the exception, but you just can’t build a franchise around a guy like Embiid. Take Wiggins or Parker and build around him and Giannis. There is a window of opportunity to win in the East once the Big 3 era is done. Washington, Cleveland and Toronto see that chance to take over the East but a team with 2 potential stud wings in Giannis and Wiggins/Parker can put us there in a few years.

    • And the Spurs aren’t really an exception this year either, because Kawhi Leonard was AWESOME in the finals. I really want the Bucks to pick up Wiggins, so I’m really hoping the Cavs take Parker, and the Bucks don’t get any thoughts about trading down to 3. Take Wiggins, and don’t even take a second to THINK about it.

      • If it lands Thaddeus Young and the third pick ends up being Exum, I’d gladly trade down to 3.

        • I like Thad Young, but they don’t need a tweener forward. They already have plenty of forwards as it is. Maybe if they were able to unload Henson or (preferably) Ilyasova and his albatross contract, then there would be space for him. Besides, I don’t want to see them pick up a young vet that can help them win too much. They need another couple years in the crapper developing young players that THEY draft. Players that they control for a few years and have rookie contracts. Then you fill out the roster with established vets. That’s more of a winning formula. Trading for the third and tenth picks seems more logical, however, the MOST logical thing to do would be to select whichever is left between Parker and Wiggins. Period.

    • I disagree heavily on “needing a stud wing.” It helps sure, but you need a player that can set up the offense and hound the ball 94 feet at the point. I’ll take Chris Paul any day(if I had Embiid) over Lebron or Durant. Hell I’d take Russell Westbrook over Durant or LeBron. I can assure you having RW on your team littered with insane outside shooting can and will lead to a very tough team. RW on say the Hawks would have made the Hawks the best team in the league. With guys like Korver, nothing beats a drive and kick type of point guard. Bucks definitely have some damn good shooters on this team. Mayo, Brandon Knight, Delfino,ERSAN. Going into this year I’d love to have RW because the Bucks definitely have shooters. Given down years or not.

  6. Javier Maldonado

    Bucks need Wiggings or Parker we need a scorer, 76ers can take a chance with Joel Ebiid, Good Luck with that pick and let me know how it goes hahah very funny

  7. I would love to see some debate and ideas about the Bucks’ 3 2nd round picks… A chance to trade back into round 1, throw out some names people… This debate about the 2nd overall pick has been beat to death :)

  8. I’m totally fine with taking Parker if he’s there or even Wiggins (although I’m less sold on him), but I’m also okay with taking advantage of the 76ers… If they want to trade some talent to us orrr a future lottery pick and we take exum then fine. I personally believe that john hammond won’t make the wrong pick this year (with his job on the line), once again is not like we need exum to be a superstar. We can let him develop and let giannis, him, and whatever lottery pick we get from Philadelphia grow off each other…. plus we have 3, 2nd round picks. …. Go bucks

  9. I still think Julius Randle would be the most immediately help. It’s a damn shame that we have the number two pick and nobody really stands out as great. I really don’t like Wiggins or Embiid; Parker by default, I suppose, and now maybe even he will be gone.My best case would be trade down to maybe 5 or 6, get Randle and a possible lottery pick next year.

  10. I say we just trade for lebron and get this rumor stuff over with…….. bucks get lebron, and the heat’s 1st round pick, heat get all of the bucks picks for this year and next plus larry sanders and the expired rights to drew gooden 😛

  11. On-board with Wiggins as the pick. BUT, I also like the idea of John Hammond making the following phone call to Sam Hinkie: “Hey Sam, it’s John. Yeah, hi. We’re going to take Wiggins at #2 if Cleveland takes Parker. The only way it doesn’t is if you give us #3 and #10. Nope, no players. Straight up. Maybe we’ll throw in our worst second-round pick. It’s in the 50s. You have five minutes.”

    Two lottery picks, and one of them being Exum, would be a nice haul. I still prefer Wiggins, but I wouldn’t hate on Hammond too much if this happens. I think everyone agrees the one thing they need is talent, followed closely by excitement. And if Dougie McBuckets of Julius Randle fell to #10 (or, you know, EMBIID), jackpot.

    • Exum and Randle in the same draft, allowing a trade of Ersan for an additional asset. I would love to see that

      • Not likely to happen, but I guess anything’s possible. That scenario would be enticing.

  12. Don’t like Randle at all. No outside shot; plays below the rim. He managed to muscle his way through a college season, but that won’t work in the NBA.

    • who would be a good Power Power forward ( as opposed to Stretch 4 ) that we could snag in round 2 ?

      • that is, I am thinking we need a Jeff Adrien type guy, powerful, high effort, but someone 3 inches or more taller than Adrien…

  13. Exactly what we need. Some muscle to go with our long thin guys. Jarnell Stokes or Patric Young!!

    • Patric Young, yeah now I remember watching him being a beast in the tournament… Good offensive rebounder, surprisingly not so good on def boards, good at pick and roll, both on offense and defense.. 6-10 and chiselled.. Wonder if they can get him with their 2nd or 3rd pic of the 2nd round ?

      • Based on the impact of Jeff Adrien last year, it is obvious that the Bucks need a muscle and effort guy. Adrien has the right mindset, but is obviously limited by his height.

        Of all players in this year’s draft, Jarnell Stokes would be my first choice for a muscle guy, and he might be available to the Bucks at #31. Just exactly like Jeff Adrien but about 2 inches taller. (officially 6’7″ barefoot, 6’8.5 in shoes)

        Strengths: Stokes is a powerful power forward who is a load to stop on the low block … Great at establishing position around the basket, which is reflected by his 53% shooting from the field this past season … Great rebounder for his size; averaged 10.6 RPG last season … Plays with a high motor and crashes the boards/boxes out tenaciously … Plays with a high IQ and has a good team-first attitude for a guy trying to make it in the league … Great touch around the rim. Very efficient finisher in the post …Very difficult player to back down in the post … Gets to the line a fair amount. Averaged over 6 free throw attempts per game this season, where he connected at a rate of 70% … Rarely has an “off night”. Recorded 22 double-doubles this year … Gets up and down the floor quickly in transition …Decent jumper from out to mid-range … With a 7’1″ wingspan, Stokes has fantastic length … Good at using a few quick dribbles to get around his man in the paint … Great hands … Has gotten more comfortable playing away from the basket this season on both ends of the court…

        Weaknesses: Undersized from a height standpoint for an NBA post player, although this can be alleviated some by his wingspan, strength and motor. Appears around 6’7 to 6’7.5 in shoes … Will struggle to defend face-up 4’s on the perimeter due to his below-average lateral quickness…Somewhat limited offensive game, but he does contribute a lot in other areas…Until this year’s postseason, Stokes’ teams at Tennessee always seemed to under perform…

        Overall: Stokes is a powerful and well-built power forward who has the maturity and the skill set to contribute as a role player right away for an NBA team. He’s a skilled post scorer and a tenacious rebounder and could get a look in the late first round…

        If Stokes isn’t there at #31, Patric Young from Florida also fits the profile of a muscle/effort guy. 6’10″/250 and built like Ben Wallace. But I’ve watched a few Florida games, and Young just doesn’t seem to be willing to get as physical as he should. Maybe that can change in the NBA, but I would much prefer Stokes for the Bucks.

        At this point a lot of Mock Drafts have Stokes in the late 1st round (between 25 and 30). I would love to see the Bucks package #31 with another 2nd rounder to move up to the late first for Stokes.

        • sounds good Houston … Either of these guys would be good for pushing Henson around to toughen him up in practice too :)

  14. I actually think most Miwaukeans would have chosen Embiid over Wiggins had both been healthy. Over at Brewhoop they took a poll on who you would take first, second, and so on. Embiid came out on top by quite a bit. Wiggins and Parker was basically split down the middle for #2 pick.

  15. Patric Young would be amazing as a second round pick. He’ll be the next Ben Wallace.

  16. Those of you that think Jabari Parker can’t play the 3 and say ‘he’s too slow’ you need to get your head checked. He can definitely handle the 3. He just played 4/5 on a small ball team. This man is the best offensive threat in the draft. Ersan is not some bum, he just needs to come into the season in shape. He needs to stop taking the summers off and bust his ass.

    • I agree with you regarding Parker on the offensive end. He could play the three or the four offensively. Problem is that he won’t be able play the three or the four on the defensive end. He’s basically just a versatile scoring machine, which has value. As far as Ilyasova, I would do everything I could to dump that contract. He’s useless for this team and what they are trying to accomplish. He could help somebody, but that may be a difficult contract to move without having to take on someone else’s crap in return. Johnny boy has some real work to do.

  17. I’m fine with trading back if we get 3 and 10 from Philly. Imagine this Bucks fans, we draft Exum at 3, and if Embiid falls to the Lakers pick at 7, we call them up and offer BK plus 10 for 7 then draft Embiid. Exum and Embiid is a better haul than just Wiggins or Parker. I want Wiggins most but getting two guys that will be very good eventually (don’t let these fluke injuries worry you) whoever we end up with will be an exciting player and I for one can’t wait until Thursday.

    • not sure about trading Knight… I would be more inclined to trade Ersan … And to get 3 and 10 for our 2, I bet we have to give up something else, player, or 2nd round pick perhaps..

    • youre absolutely crazy man

      im totally scared of taking any big men with an injury history, especially as extensive as embiid has had, wiggins is crazy athletic and we need a starrrrrr scorer, you have to think that BK had next near NO talent on his team last year and he really started to progress as a slasher and a playmaker and began to turn into a true point guard. you have to give the guy another year or two, dont give up on him like detroit did. who do you want taking your last shot of the game? exum whose an upper 30%’s shooter, embiid or wiggins?

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