Michael Porter Jr. is one of the more intriguing draft prospects heading into the 2018 NBA draft. Coming into to his freshman year at Missouri, most mock drafts had him pegged as a lock to be drafted in the top 5 and possibly even the #1 overall pick. However, an injury plagued one-and-done campaign has halted the hype surrounding this former high-school superstar and might allow him to be the steal at the top of this year’s draft.
It is rare to throw around the word “steal” when talking about a player who is still a sure-fire top ten prospect, but that just shows you the type of raw talent Porter Jr. possesses, even after missing nearly a full season of basketball. The hype stems from his size and scoring ability. If he can stay healthy, which is still a major concern, he will turn into a scoring machine in the NBA.
Since he barely played at Missouri, take a look at some of his highlights from high school when he was considered by many as the best high school player in the world:
As you can see, MPJ has had a unique combination of size and skill with the ball for quite some time now. His handles are next-level for a player of his size and he has no problem pulling up from well behind the arc. You could make the argument that he is the most skilled 6′ 10″+ basketball player to come out of high school since Kevin Durant.
Porter also benefits from top-flight athleticism. As you can see in the video, he can produce video-game dunk highlights. This athleticism will also help him on the defensive side of the ball. He can hang with smaller ball-handlers on the perimeter or use his size and athleticism to guard power forwards and even centers.
So why is he not in the conversation for the number one overall pick?
Michael Porter Jr. certainly does not know, as he was quoted saying to ESPN reporters, “I’m the best player in this draft” and “I just can’t wait to show what I am capable of.”
Those are things you love to hear out of your first-round selection, but the simple answer is injury concerns and a loaded draft class. It going to be hard for any team to completely overlook a spinal injury when picking at the top of the draft. Not to mention this just is not your typical draft class. Much like last year’s class, this class is loaded with top-tier talent and should have several guys from the middle to late first-round turn into high quality starters if not all-stars. Sometimes there is no need to take a risk on a possibly injury-prone star like Porter when there are just so many other high quality options.
However, Porter’s talent does justify the risk. He will need develop more as an all-around scorer as he progresses in the NBA, but other than that, this guy really is a talent and might be worth moving back for in the draft.
The Hawks are currently drafting third in the draft. If they feel comfortable enough with Porter’s spinal situation, it might be best if they overlook guys like Jaren Jackson, Mohamed Bamba and even Luka Doncic. Those prospects all have significant question marks of their own. In the process Atlanta would be able to pick up a future draft pick(s) and land perhaps the most talented prospect in this year’s class much like the Boston Celtics were able to do with Jayson Tatum.
Atlanta is looking for a cornerstone to build around in this year’s draft. Porter Jr. might be the best option available to them and he will likely be around at pick 6-10. This is a situation the Hawks have to at least be considering.