Michael Porter Jr. – Missouri
CPP Big Board Ranking: #4 Overall (#1 SF/#2 PF)
Weight: 214 lbs
Age/Birthday: 19 (6/29/98)
Hometown: Columbia, MO
High School: Nathan Hale High School (Washington)
(Brett Siegel – 1/23/18)
If it wasn’t for a back injury that currently keeps Michael Porter Jr. sidelined in Missouri, he would likely be the front-runner to be the first player selected in the 2018 NBA Draft. After being ranked as the best recruit in the 2017 ESPN 100 Recruiting Rankings, until Marvin Bagley III reclassified late in the recruiting season, Michael Porter Jr. was set to attend Washington and play alongside his brother, Jontay Porter, who had reclassified as well. A physical freak that plays the wing and the post, Michael Porter Jr. has all the measurements and tools to play in the NBA right now. He stands just under 6’11” on the court with an enormous wingspan of 7’0” and has an athletic ability for a guy standing as tall as he is that is extremely rare. Much like hybrid players in the NBA today such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns, who both are lethal anytime they have the ball in their hands, Michael Porter Jr. is that type of player you just cannot defend. He is a complete mismatch for any of his opponents he faces, whether he is lined up on the wing or in the post, and his footwork continues to improve.
Going back to his injury, Porter Jr. suffered a setback in his college career and NBA Draft stock when he suffered an apparent back injury in the first few minutes of his Missouri career. Not only is there no timetable for his return, but Michael Porter Jr. has not made it clear whether or not he is a “one-and-down” player. It has been assumed coming in as one of the best recruits in the country that his time at Missouri would be short lived, but now with this back injury causing his draft stock to slip slightly, Porter Jr. may consider returning for what would be his sophomore season. Whatever happens with Michael Porter Jr, whether he plays this season or not, I expect him to be a Top 5 draft pick this year nonetheless. It is not often a guy with his size and athletic ability enters the league and it would be hard for teams to pass up on him.
Strengths: To be 6’10” and be able to be a threat as a ball-handler and passer is extremely rare. This talent Porter Jr. possess is easily one of his biggest strengths, because it helps progress his game as he plays. He is almost never guarded by anyone as big as he is on the wing, mainly because if he was guarded by another forward or center, Porter Jr. would blow right past them to the rim. Michael Porter Jr. is a facilitator on the floor and processes like a machine offensively. His face up approach offensively compares similar to the way NBA games are being played today and is a tool he likes to utilize. His size enables him to rise above defenders on jump shots and helps his mid-range game a lot. Mechanic wise, there is not much you can complain about. He is an excellent free-throw shooter, shooting 86% from the line in his senior season in high school, and excels in the screen game. Whether it is setting a screen or pulling up for a shot off of a screen, Michael Porter Jr. is reliable from any spot on the court. Even the slightest amount of space for Porter Jr. allows him to be automatic from mid-range and dangerous from 3pt range. He is also very aggressive when it comes to rebounding. Whether it is on the offensive or defensive glass, Michael Porter Jr. is a double-double threat night in and night out. There are not too many guys who are as strong as Porter Jr. on the glass and adds to his all-around fantastic game. Defensively, Michael Porter Jr. has potential, but has a lot of work to do to become a fantastic two-way player at the next level. Regardless of his future development, Michael Porter Jr. may be the most NBA ready player in college basketball and will no doubt be a Top 5 pick in this years draft, regardless if he doesn’t play another game this season.
Weaknesses: The only major concern/weakness for Michael Porter Jr, from an NBA standpoint, is his ability to defend. He does an above average job on closing out defensively, but sometimes it looks like Porter Jr. is focused more on offense than defense. When a shot goes up, he sometimes is more apt to begin his run in transition, instead of corralling the rebound and starting the push in transition for his team. It is almost like he is more worried about scoring points than allowing his opponents to score. It also seems at times that Michael Porter Jr. is bored on defense, resulting in a lack of effort. His size allows him to have all the potential in the world to be a shot-blocker and disrupt passes, but doesn’t fully commit to said plays. Offensively, Michael Porter’s jump shot is fantastic, but when he is having one of those days and the shots are not falling, he tends to find himself in an offensive funk. He prefers to shoot a mid-range shot instead of driving to the rim, which is slightly concerning for an NBA scout. He must become slightly more aggressive offensively and want to absorb contact in the paint and finish around the rim. Playing against bigger and stronger forwards and centers in the NBA will definitely cause Michael Porter Jr. to slightly adjust his game.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Jabari Parker
Coming up with a comparison for Michael Porter Jr. is like trying to find the lost city of Atlantis. Not only do we all have a very small sample size of seeing Michael Porter Jr. play, (at a high school level nonetheless) but there really has not been a player in the history of the league like him. His 6’10”/6’11” stature and wingspan for a dual wing/post player is truly remarkable and something the new generation of players coming into the NBA possesses. If we had to make a comparison for Porter Jr, the closest thing I can think of would be Jabari Parker for a few reasons.
First, both Parker and Porter are aggressive offensive players and treasure their mid-range game. In his college days, Jabari Parker was a very impressive jump-shooter and a tenacious rebounder, much like what we have seen with Michael Porter Jr. on the AAU circuit and with USA Basketball. Second, both players have unknowns and unprovens about them. For Jabari Parker, he has been injury plagued throughout his young NBA career and has not been healthy for a full season yet. Michael Porter Jr, if he enters the NBA this year, could be on a similar route. Back injuries are very unpredictable and can sometimes be looming injuries throughout a player’s career. He may enter the league with discomfort and have to recheck his back if problems still persist. Hopefully Michael Porter Jr. will be the same player as he was before the injury, but there is a lot unknown moving forward.
Potential wise, Michael Porter Jr. has an unlimited amount of potential and his ceiling is extremely high. There is no doubt in my mind he can become a household name on All-Star weekend and be one of the best players of his generation. Development and toning in the NBA will be extremely important to Porter’s future success.
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