Projecting Where Michael Porter Jr. Will Be Selected After 2018 NBA Draft Lottery

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2018

Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. (13) passes off a loose ball against Florida State guard Braian Angola (11) in the second half of a first-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, March 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Michael Porter Jr.'s lone season at Missouri didn't go the way he planned. He appeared in just one regular-season game before undergoing surgery to alleviate pain in a lingering lower back injury.

When Porter returned, there wasn't much to write home about. Missouri lost both of his games after his return, and he was noticeably rusty. The 6'10" forward had 16 points and 10 rebounds in the Tigers' NCAA tournament loss to Florida State but made just four of his 12 shots.

"I don't regret anything I did. I would not say I regret any decision to come back," Porter told reporters at the time.

The decision doesn't appear to have hurt his draft stock. Porter was considered a potential top-three selection before the injury and is likely closer to the 6-10 range at this point. Deandre Ayton has emerged as a pretty clear No. 1 in this class, with Euro guard Luka Doncic as the only real threat. Ayton and Doncic will in all likelihood find themselves going to Phoenix or Sacramento after the Suns and Kings finished with the top two picks in Tuesday night's draft lottery.

Porter's probably not going to play himself into the top three. But it's certainly possible Porter enters himself into the top five, particularly if things go well in his workouts.

Porter is one of the more NBA-ready players in this class. He can score inside and out—he might be the best scorer in this class. He's also flashed the ability to lead a break, though more advanced players may be able to pick apart his questionable ball-handling. There's a little bit of Blake Griffin in the way he handles in the open court; he can do it, but you're never fully comfortable with what you're watching.

Depending on how much body sculpting he's done and how well his back holds up to medical scrutiny, Porter could go off the board as high as No. 4 to the Memphis Grizzlies or fall to the end of the lottery. The Los Angeles Clippers have two lottery picks and would almost certainly use the No. 12 or 13 pick on Porter and take a risk on his high upside.

If we're looking at the most likely candidates, the Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks (at No. 5) are the high end of his draft range. Memphis needs help all over its roster, and the Mavericks may become enticed enough to ignore the potential awkwardness of Porter and Harrison Barnes; it's pretty clear at this point Barnes isn't a key component of a winning team.

After the No. 5 pick, though, Porter could be in some trouble. The Orlando Magic (No. 6), Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 8) and New York Knicks (No. 9) seem likelier to focus on adding shooting to their backcourt. If he doesn't go in the top five, the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 10 might wind up being his best bet.

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