Medical concerns surrounding Michael Porter Jr. nearly caused the former Missouri Tigers forward to fall out of the lottery in the 2018 NBA draft Thursday night, but the Denver Nuggets decided he was worth the risk at No. 14.
Now, the team will have to wait and see when its first-round pick will be able to take the court.
Nuggets president Josh Kroenke told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he was not sure if Porter would be able to play in summer league or even during the 2018-19 regular season.
Coming out of high school, Porter was widely expected to be in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick. However, disaster struck nearly immediately. He suffered an injury just two minutes into his college career and had to undergo back surgery.
By the time he was able to see game action again, it was the postseason, and he was thrown into the March Madness fire. He averaged 14 points on 31 percent shooting over two games in the SEC and NCAA tournament.
As a result, NBA teams flagged Porter as a medical risk. It didn't help his cause that he had to pull out of a predraft workout because of muscle spams. The 19-year-old told ESPN Radio's The Will Cain Show that the reports on his injury were "exaggerated," noting his hip was just "kind of sore," via Jenna West of SI.com.
Come draft night, Porter had to wait longer than expected to hear his name called. When he finally did find a home, he told NBA TV's Jared Greenberg that he doesn't expect injuries to affect him down the road:
While he acknowledged that Porter wasn't a safe pick, Kroenke showed faith in his player.
"Michael is an incredible talent, and we were surprised to see him available at No. 14," he told Spears. "We know the risks associated with him due to his recent back injury at Missouri, but he’s an incredibly hard worker, is an outstanding young man and we think he will fit in well with our up-and-coming group in Denver."
Porter told ESPN he was going to do everything he can to be the best draft pick in Nuggets franchise history.
"All of this is a blessing," Porter said, per Spears. "I can't wait to prove a lot of people wrong."