Michael Porter Jr is the great unknown of the NBA draft

Jay Asser 15:29 15/06/2018
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Michael Porter played just three games at Missouri.

There’s a shroud of mystery around Michael Porter, which is adding even more unpredictability at the top of next week’s NBA draft.

Porter’s health and his transparency of it – or lack of – has thrown his stock completely out of whack, raising questions as to how and why he’s choosing to handle his pre-draft process the way he is.

There are legitimate concerns over how injured Porter may be. Once considered a top-two prospect in his class, the 19-year-old had a rough season in his lone year at Missouri, where he hurt his back in the first game and needed spinal disc surgery. When he returned, Porter struggled to show why he was a can’t-miss player coming out of high school as he scored 28 points on 9-of-29 shooting combined in the final two games.

Porter’s stock took another hit when he postponed his first pro day, pushing it back from June 1 to June 8, and even when he held his workout – which reportedly went well for the teams in attendance – Porter only allowed the Chicago Bulls medical staff to examine him. The results of his examination were eventually released to all NBA teams.

Porter’s second pro-day was scheduled to be on Friday, but on Wednesday teams in the lottery were informed that the workout was cancelled because of hip spasms, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania. Porter was in such bad condition that he “couldn’t get out of bed”, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Now, after underdoing an MRI on Thursday, Porter will indeed hold a rescheduled workout on Friday so lottery teams can give him a medical and physical evaluation, according to Charania.

The start-stop nature of Porter’s pre-draft process would indicate his stock his falling, potentially into the back-half of the lottery. If anything, however, his stock appears to be rising, at least based on the report by USA Today’s Sam Amick that there’s a “very real chance” the Sacramento Kings could take him second overall, and on Givony’s report that he’s unlikely to fall out of the top seven.

Porter’s situation is weird, but not unprecedented. Top prospects in previous drafts over the years have similarly limited their exposure in an attempt to influence where they get selected.

For Porter, the motive could be to land in a preferred destination, such as Chicago, who pick seventh. He’s clearly shown a comfort with the Bulls in the lead-up to the draft, while Chicago are a bigger market than every city ahead of them in the order. Givony’s report that Porter won’t fall out of the top seven lends further credence to the theory.

It’s also possible Porter is trying to avoid a team at the top of the order like Sacramento, who have shown to be a dysfunctional organisation.

Regardless, all it takes is for one team to fall in love with Porter’s potential, which has plenty of appeal. The near 7-footer has a fluidity and smoothness to his game that makes him a promising wing talent, perfect for the modern game where a blend of size and skill is coveted.

He may never develop into a star, but he certainly has star-like traits. For teams at the top of the draft order, taking a swing on Porter may be more desirable than selecting a safer prospect with no injury concerns.

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