Normally, when college coaches get to coach two potential top picks in the NBA Draft, they are non-committal in endorsing one over the other. However, rumor has it Bill Self seems to have a strong opinion on who should go first overall in the NBA Draft on June 26, as told to Sam Smith in a mailbag article posted today on the Bulls' site at NBA.com.
[In] regards to Joel Embiid, I'd bet my money that he goes number 1. I was at Bill Self's camp a few weeks ago and he was pretty adamant that Embiid was the most gifted and highest IQ player he'd ever coached and that it was no comparison between him and Wiggins as to who should be drafted first. Assuming that Wiggins and Parker are relatively close in value, this should be an obvious sign to who the clear cut #1 is.
Now, let's just get the pleasantries out of the way first. Self apparently told this to a person named "Kenny Lim," whose occupation is unknown and whose only connection with the coach is attendance at Self's basketball camp a few weeks ago. We don't know anything about this guy's credibility, and we need to treat this statement as such. This isn't a statement that Self made in the public eye, and it's not something that he probably expected to get out. But let's just go ahead and look at the statement anyway because rampant rumors are fun and the substance of what's being said here is fascinating.
Basically, Self is endorsing Embiid. The high IQ statement isn't always something you hear about Embiid, but it makes complete sense. For Embiid to have the footwork that he does and the ability to pass out of a double team that he has after only playing basketball for four years is nothing short of incredible. His learning curve has been exponential. Coach-ability is going to be important with Embiid as he continues to mature as a big, and Self says he has it in spades here.
Also, given who Self has coached in the past, the "most gifted" statement rings bells as well. That list includes, but is not limited to: Danny Manning, Deron Williams, Thomas Robinson, Bryant Reeves (no seriously, guy went sixth overall), Ben McLemore, Thomas Robinson, Brandon Rush, Xavier Henry, and the Morris twins. All of those guys were lottery picks while Self was on staff somewhere, and I didn't include Cole Aldrich purposely because we all knew how that was going to turn out.
Self's statements here are no small potatoes if they're true. Now, the only question is whether or not you buy Kenny Lim.