After months of speculation, mock drafts and questions about his health, Michael Porter Jr can put all of that behind him and focus on his professional career. On Thursday night at the NBA Draft in Brooklyn, the former Mizzou forward was selected 14th overall by the Denver Nuggets.
Porter, at one time, was considered the first or second overall pick of this draft before his college career started in Columbia. His stock dropped a bit after back surgery in November, but rehabbed and worked hard after the Tigers early first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament.
Porter dipped further than many of the top mock drafts predicted.
CBS Sports picked MPJ to go 7th to Chicago. Here’s what they said: A huge risk, given the health concerns. But at some point the reward outweighs the risk. Going into the season Porter was considered in the running for the No. 1 overall pick. Then the hip problem and microdiscectomy surgery on his back sidelined him for the bulk of his one-and-done season. It’s around this point where the draft begins to thin out, and Porter’s enormous ceiling begins to outweigh his risk. He’s a natural scorer. The Kevin Durant comparison some have made is going too far, but I see where the thought comes from. I see Porter as a Jayson Tatum-type player, but just a tick better in almost every way (and a tick taller, too). It’s a dream for the Bulls if Porter falls this low, because he could end up as the best player in this draft. But if his health concerns continue, the dream could turn into a nightmare.
SI.com selected MPJ to go 5th to Dallas. There’s some talk that given the possibility of wooing a veteran big in free agency, the Mavericks have more interest in taking a perimeter player here if Bagley and Jackson are off the board. Porter is a risk, but fits with their personnel and offers enticing potential if he’s able to remain healthy and get close to his ceiling as a player. Dallas can also offer the benefit of an older roster with veteran leadership to help ease him in and couch against some of the maturity questions that surround him. Porter’s camp has been transparent with respect to his health, with interested teams now having had a chance to conduct their own medicals. Barring any last minute problems, it doesn’t seem he’ll fall far in the draft given his talent as a scorer, with Chicago frequently mentioned as a possibility. It’s worth noting that the Mavericks have cap flexibility, are said to covet Luka Doncic, and could be in position to either move up to draft him (potentially absorbing salary in the process) or trade down if they don’t love any of their options. This pick will presumably garner interest from teams looking to move into the top five, given the talent that will still be on the board.