Porter Brothers’ Draft Stocks Rise After NBA Lottery

(Photo Credit: Hailey Hofer - Columbia Missourian)
JACK PARODI

Before Michael Porter Jr. donned a Missouri uniform, many projected the 18-year-old to be the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft.

After a back injury and underwhelming performances in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments, some think teams in the top 10 will be hesitant to pick the 6-foot-10, Kevin Durant-esque forward.

While Porter’s draft stock fell, his younger brother Jontay Porter saw his own stock skyrocket.

Missouri fans became accustomed to Jontay’s double-doubles, as the forward stretched the floor dominating from both in the paint and beyond the 3-point arc. His hustle on the boards, ability to block shots, scoring versatility and young age make him valuable to many NBA scouts.

A Sports Illustrated mock draft in February projected the San Antonio Spurs to draft Porter late in the first round. It’s hard to argue any NBA team is run better than the Spurs.

Over the last two decades, Gregg Popovich and company have solidified a reputation of finding players that fit their system and turn them into stars. With All-Star Lamarcus Aldridge aging, it could be interesting to see how Aldridge and Popovich mold Porter.

This would be the best-case scenario for Porter because a prospect as raw as him needs to go to a team with a plan, experienced veteran players and talented coaches.

While many Missouri fans think Porter will return for his sophomore season, first round projections could sway his decision towards the NBA.

Going into Tuesday’s NBA Lottery, the Memphis Grizzlies had the second best odds of getting the first overall pick. Instead, they fell to the fourth slot, eerily reminding fans of the 2003 NBA Draft (check the comments on their Twitter and Instagram). Memphis had the third worst record in the league in 2002, giving them the third best odds of getting the most coveted prospect in years — LeBron James. Grizzlies fans were shocked to hear their team’s name called at 13 overall, where they selected UNLV point guard Marcus Banks (5.9 points, 2.1 assists in his career).

Although, falling to the fourth overall pick for the 2018 NBA Draft may have been a blessing in disguise for Grizzlies fans.

In CBS Sports’ latest mock draft, Sports Insider Gary Parrish has Memphis selecting Porter Jr. with the fourth pick. Some have him going lower to the Chicago Bulls and various other teams, but this seems to be the most common landing spot.

This may be due to the Grizzlies’ dire need for a small forward that can score at will, possibly forcing them take a risk and reach for Porter. If the Grizzlies got the second overall pick, Porter could see himself slide out of the top 10.

Parrish said this pick reminds him of when the Philadelphia 76ers selected All-Star center Joel Embiid with the third pick in 2014.

Injuries to both Porter and Embiid led to lower projections ahead of the NBA Draft. Similar to Embiid, there’s tremendous upside for Porter, as the high-scoring wing has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant.

A team that already has talented veterans in Marc Gasol and Mike Conley and a young, gifted scorer in Dillon Brooks, the addition of a healthy Porter could be just what the Grizzlies need.

Only June 21 can tell where both the Porter brothers will fall in the draft. If doctors see no problems with Porter Jr.’s back, expect him to shoot up draft boards. As for his brother, it will all depend on how much a team values a young, raw prospect with loads of potential.

Jack Parodi covers the Missouri Tigers and you can find him on Twitter @jack_parodi