Back injuries are supposed to have ended Michael Porter Jr.’s lone season at the University of Missouri before it really started.
The 19-year-old, who was in heavy contention to be selected first overall in next June’s NBA draft, isn’t supposed to play again before his professional career tips off. He underwent a microdisectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs, which is expected to keep him on the sidelines for the duration of Mizzou’s season.
Or maybe not.
Porter posted a cryptic snapchat that people are still trying to make sense of day later:
Posted on Michael Porter Jr.’s Instagram. Interpret at your own risk. pic.twitter.com/FMIjIo1iGo
— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) November 26, 2017
Does this living room setup hold significance in his recovery? Does it perhaps symbolize something, anything?
Porter’s attempt to return this season does make some sense. He naturally wants a chance to prove to NBA scouts and front offices that they needn’t worry about him regaining form on the heels of surgery. His absence also ensured he won’t be drafted first overall. Coming back this season and proving he hasn’t missed a beat could, theoretically, vault him back into the top-pick discussion.
At the same time, multiple NBA people don’t see him falling far in the draft. Ask around, and you’ll probably find that he’s still a consensus top-five pick. Rushing back only puts him at risk of losing more than he stands to gain. What if he doesn’t play well? What if he re-aggravates his injury? What if he sets an ambitious timeline, only to miss it altogether, suggesting his back is worse off than initially thought, even if that’s not true? What then?
If the typical timetable attached to this particular brand of back surgery is three to four months and he can return without pushing the boundaries of recovery, then by all means, he should play. But he was already forced to risk enough, via the one-and-done rule, by attending college in the first place. He shouldn’t strive to do anything that could compromise his position any further.