In less than a year, Michael Porter Jr. went from a projected first-overall pick to being selected as the last pick of the lottery, 14th overall to the Denver Nuggets.
Porter is the first Missouri player drafted since Jordan Clarkson was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 46th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft.
Although some Missouri fans may be disappointed the star forward was selected later than expected, Porter is just happy his dream of getting drafted came true.
“I’m not entitled to this,” Porter said. “Everything’s a blessing. I’m so excited. My path was a little bit different than everybody else’s but I’m going to make sure this pick is the best pick they’ve ever made. I’m a winner, and I’m going to help this team win.”
Porter fell down the draft board to the Nuggets, and it may be a blessing in disguise. In a recent 590 The Fan article by Jack Parodi, the Nuggets were graded as the third-best fit for Porter out of all 13 teams in the lottery.
The Nuggets found unexpected success in 2017-18, barely missing the playoffs with a loss to the Timberwolves in the final game of the regular season. They play selfless basketball and have impeccable team chemistry, ranking fourth in the league in assists.
Led by 23-year-old center Nikola Jokic (18.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg in 2017-18), Denver is loaded with young talent. A backcourt of Jamal Murray, 21, and Gary Harris, 23, are part of a deep backcourt that keeps defenses honest.
Although the Nuggets core is young, the veteran presence of Paul Millsap and Wilson Chandler is vital to the team’s current and future success.
Millsap, a four-time All-Star, is still playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 14.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game last season. Just as important as his play on the court is his mentorship to the younger players; especially 22-year-old power forward Trey Lyles.
Porter comes to Denver at the perfect time, as long-time small forward Wilson Chandler regressed in 2017-18. He looked slower on the court and averaged 5.7 less points per game than in 2016-17. It’s normal wear-and-tear for an aging wing player, but the Nuggets had to find a young replacement.
The small forward with the highest potential fell to them at 14, and they couldn’t pass on Porter. He very well could be the missing piece to the puzzle for an up-and-coming squad.
Aside from Millsap, a starting lineup with Porter would have an average age of just over 21 years old. It may take a few seasons before the Nuggets can make a real run at a title, but if Porter and the other young talent live up to their potentials, it’s possible.
In a few years Denver fans could be thanking their lucky stars Porter fell into their laps.
Jack Parodi covers the Missouri Tigers for 590 The Fan and you can find him on Twitter @jack_parodi.