It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours for Joel Embiid. He has gone from potential No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft to someone who shares the same injury history as Bill Walton and Kevin McHale, two great players whose careers were cut way short by problems with their feet.

The stress fracture in Embiid’s foot has cut short what had been a really promising summer full of dominant workouts by the big man, and threw next week’s NBA Draft into disarray. The center from Kansas had surgery today, and Yahoo’s Adrian Wojarowski has been all over the story:

Perhaps the only positive to come out of this for Embiid is that it will also give him time to continue to rest his back. He suffered a stress fracture during the season, which kept the center out of the NCAA tournament and had been a lingering concern for teams heading into the draft.

To be blunt, the history of players who suffer this particular injury isn’t great. It’s quite obvious, but the feet are critically important for a basketball player, and for Embiid to already be dealing with a potentially chronic issue at age 20 is going to be enough to scare off a lot of teams. It’s the same injury that did in Walton, McHale, and Yao Ming.

The tradeoff, of course, is that Embiid is also immensely talented. His terrific athleticism and low post game are hugely valuable commodities, and he is so raw that there is still plenty of room for him to develop. While Embiid may no longer be worth the risk in the top five of the draft, there are rumors that the Celtics are still interested in selecting him at No. 6, or possibly higher if they decide to trade up.

That could all just be a lot of talk, however. It’s highly unlikely we’ll get a strong indication of where Embiid will be headed until Adam Silver calls out his name on draft night next Thursday.

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