Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a rotating panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic. Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Joe Kaiser and Kyle Soppe and ESPN Insider Adam Schefter.
Joel Embiid's production in his first NBA season was so eye-popping (20.2 PPG, 1.2 3PPG, 2.1 APG, 7.8 RPG, 2.5 BPG, 46.6 FG%, 78.3 FT%) that he may still win Rookie of the Year despite playing only 31 games. Considering the 23-year-old's incredible upside and the health issues that have limited him to just those 31 games over three seasons, at what point will you be willing to draft Embiid next season?
Kyle Soppe: The Sixers are getting close to reaping the fruits of former team president Sam Hinkie's "process," as 2017-18 should open with a lineup loaded with all of the young talent that they have spent years acquiring, and that could make them one of the most fantasy-friendly offenses in our game.
In my opinion, drafting Embiid will require going in with a plan. He's not the type you simply draft because he is the best available, rather one who you draft early because you specifically want Philly's big man. If you can secure safety with your first two picks (players like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, etc.), I have no issue with spending your third selection on Embiid.
Speculating about how an active Ben Simmons will impact Embiid's production is nothing more than guesswork at this point, but I don't expect it to hinder his overall value in a big way. In terms of overall rankings, I currently have Embiid slotted in as my sixth-best center but not one who comes without risk.
Joe Kaiser: Embiid's play this season was so good that I think he will be a third-round pick in most leagues, despite being a major injury risk. In those 31 games this season, he outperformed even the loftiest expectations and positively impacted nearly every stat category from the center spot -- even stepping out beyond the arc and making 1.2 3-pointers per game.
If you want Embiid on your fantasy team next season, you're going to need to take him in the top 35 picks, because if you don't, someone else will. It's as simple as that.
Adam Schefter: As an Embiid owner from this past season, it is easy to identify with this question. On the one hand, the talent is undeniable. Were it not for injuries, he would be a borderline first-round pick. But with the injuries, and the concerns, it's not easy to trust "The Process," as good and talented as he is.
It's hard to pinpoint the exact round I'd be willing to take him, but it would be right around the third -- and I'm betting someone else will trust Embiid more and take him higher. But if he were there in the third round, I'd be looking at him -- along with stocking up on some other Sixers like Dario Saric and Robert Covington later.