There was a tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding Michael Porter Jr heading into Thursday night’s draft. A year ago, prior to his one-and-done season at Missouri, Porter was widely considered the prohibitive favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick this summer.
But after sustaining a serious back injury that sidelined him for all but three games of his freshman season, teams grew increasingly wary of taking a chance on drafting him this summer. Still, many believed he wouldn’t stay on the board long, and some mock drafts still had going as high as No. 2.
Needless to say, that didn’t happen, and Porter ended up falling the way to the Denver Nuggets with the 14th pick. It’s a risk for the organization, but a relatively low one considering they weren’t anticipating he’d be available at that point. And it’s looking more and more like they’re willing to take their time with his recovery, which apparently could entail him sitting out his entire rookie season.
Will he play next season? If so, when? Will he ever truly be healthy? Nuggets president Josh Kroenke told The Undefeated he was uncertain about whether Porter Jr. would play in summer league or during the 2018-19 season. Before his post-draft news conference, Porter Jr. walked around with a slight limp as he took a congratulatory phone call from Kroenke and head coach Michael Malone.
An injury like this is certainly a major concern in terms of his long-term outlook, but Porter is such a phenomenal talent when healthy that the opportunity proved too enticing to pass up. At 6’10 and with his athleticism and shooting touch, he’s a prototypical player for the modern NBA.
The Nuggets are also clearly hoping that, like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons before him, early injuries won’t prevent him from quickly becoming a superstar and potential franchise cornerstone. Denver already has a talented roster that very nearly made the playoffs last season in the crowded West, and Porter could end up being the piece that gets them over the hump if the health problems don’t linger.
(via The Undefeated)