Michael Porter Jr. is a likely top-10 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, even if he doesn’t take the floor for another second of college basketball. However, arguments are forming on both sides of the argument concerning whether the Missouri freshman should attempt to return this season and the intensity of the discussion increased on the heels of news that he is now medically cleared for basketball activities.
With that in mind, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman caught up with “more than 10” NBA general managers and front office executives this week and they delivered a near-consensus that Porter Jr. should take the floor if ready to do so.
One GM noted that “it depends on how (Porter Jr.) looks in practice” and another flatly stated that “if he wants to be a top five pick, he should play.”
Of course, those evaluations come without full-scale knowledge of where Porter Jr. is in his rehabilitation timeline and, given the nature of his back injury, there is a bit of increased risk. Beyond that, there has been so much tape on Porter Jr. from the high school and AAU circuits that, for many, there is little upside to him returning while the downside of looking rusty and/or ineffective could place a bit of doubt in at least some scouts and decision-makers.
The ESPN report includes a reference to a “source close to the family” that also places real emphasis on the practice setting and just how Porter Jr. fares against his teammates behind closed doors. There is only so much to be gleaned from that type of scenario but, in the same breath, it makes all the sense in the world for the 6’10 forward to hold himself out of live action if there is any doubt whatsoever about his immediate effectiveness given the (very) small potential sample size.
Missouri appears likely to reach the NCAA Tournament and, with that in mind, there is something of a longer leash on Porter’s return timeline. Still, a decision needs to be made in the near future and, with a floor of a top-10 placement in June’s draft, the downside of operating at less than 100 percent, even from a confidence and comfort standpoint, could creep into play.