Where Does Joel Embiid Rank Among No. 3 Overall Picks in NBA History?

Justin Grasso

Back in 2014, the Philadelphia 76ers made perhaps one of the most critical selections in team history. With the third-overall pick in the draft, the Sixers picked Kansas center, Joel Embiid. At the time, Embiid was recovering from surgery on his foot, so he was expected to miss his entire rookie season.

But the tanking 76ers didn't care. It was a perfect situation for 'The Process.' Not only would the 76ers be bad enough with an injured Embiid to have the best chances at securing the No. 1 pick for the following draft -- but they took a gamble on a guy who should've been the No. 1 pick in 2014 until his injury sent the Cavaliers in another direction. 

In hindsight, the Sixers made the right choice. While Embiid's health and durability are still somewhat of an issue, he's still viewed as one of the best all-around bigs in the game. One day, Embiid could be recognized as one of the greatest players to be selected No. Three overall in the NBA. Where does he rank today, though?

Joel Embiid: The 13th best No. 3 Pick in NBA History?

Recently, Zach Harper of The Atheltic ranked 70 players, who were selected third-overall in their draft classes. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid makes his appearance just outside of the top ten at No. 13.

"We had to wait two full seasons until Embiid played in a real NBA game and even then we only got 31 contests from him his rookie season. But since then, he’s proven to be one of the most dynamic players in the league. When everybody was saying the big man is dead, Embiid helped revive giants in the NBA during an era in which so many teams are trying to play small ball."

"He’s one of the best defensive forces in the league and he’s overwhelming physically when he wants to. The problem with Embiid is still wondering if he’s going to be in good enough shape to bring titles to Philadelphia."

Embiid's position is fair at the moment. As long as his body can hold up for years to come, there's no doubt the Sixers' center can improve his status as a historical No. Three overall pick. Considering he was taken so high, though, it's going to be tough for Embiid to surpass some of the players in front of him.

Some of the current players ahead of Embiid include Carmelo Anthony and James Harden, along with some extremely notable legends such as Dominque Wilkins, Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill, and Michael Jordan. Embiid likely won't have an issue racking up personal accolades in the future as he's already a three-time All-Star. But if he wants to improve his spot on a list like this, the Sixers' center is going to have to help his team possess the NBA Finals hardware in the postseason.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_

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