Michael Porter Jr. needn’t worry about season-ending back surgery torpedoing his NBA draft stock. Though he is most likely out of contention for the No. 1 overall pick, at least a couple of general managers don’t see him slipping much further in the order.
David Aldridge of NBA.com polled a bunch of front-office types about Porter’s future at the professional level, and while obvious concern exists, two GMs in particular cannot fathom an epic draft-day plunge:
“If it’s a standard microdiscectomy, it shouldn’t be much of an issue (lots of those procedures on NBA players),” one general manager said Sunday via text. “If it’s more than that, the result could be of greater impact. If he can do a few draft workouts, he should be just fine. It may play out like the (Joel) Embiid draft where Joel was affected by a couple picks (because of the foot), but not much beyond that.” . . .
“It depends obviously on the outcome of the procedure and level of rehab success,” another GM said. “But it would take a real problematic situation to cause a big draft slip. He should stay well inside the Top 5.”
A Joel Embiid-like fall would be ideal for Porter. The big man went from being considered at No. 1 overall in 2014 to getting selected by the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3.
Even landing in the top five would come as a supreme comfort. Porter wouldn’t be missing out on that much money in the grand scheme of things, and it would still put him in the company of fellow top-pick prospects: Slovenia’s Luka Doncic, Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton and Duke’s Marvin Bagley III.
So much about Porter’s ultimate landing spot depends on the draft order and team depth charts, in addition to how favorable his progress reports are during recovery. This year’s incoming rookie class is considered to be a loaded one. It wouldn’t be ludicrous to see someone like Michigan State’s Jarren Jackson Jr., Texas’ Mohamed Bamba or Miles Bridges, also of Michigan State, usurp an injured Porter on the ladder. But the NBA is a wing’s league right now, and Porter built up enough momentum as a consensus top-three prospect to ensure that, barring anything more sinister than what’s known now, some team in the top five should take a flyer on his services.