Elite-scoring wings have been a staple in the culture of the NBA for the better part of the 21st century. The turn of the century was dominated by the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony, before giving way to a new era that included Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Jimmy Butler, Paul George and others. Even the youngest generation of the NBA has heralded young scorers on the wings including Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum. However, few prospects in the history of the game have shown the amount of talent and efficiency of Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. 2018 NBA Draft Profile
Porter’s physical frame and athleticism are the bulk of what makes him a fantastic prospect, and both contribute to his unparalleled scoring capability. Porter files in at 6 feet 10 inches and 215 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan. His body frame is built like a prototypical NBA small forward, with exceptional length and muscle mass leaving any concerns about size at the door.
Porter isn’t a high-flying athlete by any means, but he moves incredibly fluently with the ball in his hands. He is quick and very bouncy as a ball handler, yet slick and ridiculously in control in the way he gets past defenders. The combination of athleticism, lateral movement and fluidity make Porter a proficient slasher and finisher at the rim.
Obviously, Porter didn’t give scouts much to work with in terms of statistics at Missouri, playing just 53 total minutes, and what was given, wasn’t pretty. Any of Porter’s statistics should be taken with a grain of salt considering the situation he was forced to play in while not being fully recovered from his back surgery.
Ironically, despite not playing significant minutes until March, Porter’s usage rate was a scorching 36.5. His rebounding in the final two games was also at a high mark, grabbing 18 boards in two games, good for 21.8 percent of his team’s total rebounds when he was on the floor.
Porter is a complete scorer at all three levels. He is best attacking right and forcing contact, but is also extremely effective posting up, where he can hit turnaround midrange jumpers and floaters. He is fast and runs lanes effectively in transition. Most of the time, this will either give him easy dunks off alley-oops or layups as a trailer.
One of the bigger concerns from Porter’s post-injury game action was that his ability to blow past defenders was essentially nonexistent. However, it was his first time playing competitive basketball in nearly a year and he wasn’t nearly in good enough shape to be handling the ball like he did prior to back surgery. When at full strength, Porter’s handles are his greatest asset in getting to the rim.
Porter’s effectiveness as a jump shooter isn’t confined to just spot-up shooting as he’s also extremely efficient pulling up off the dribble. This is primarily due to his aforementioned bouncy-like ball handling and fundamental shooting form. When he approaches the 3-point line, Porter tends to size up and raise his momentum upward, which in turn, gets his body both completely squared and parallel to the floor. That way, when he lands back on the ground, it’s much easier to get his feet set and fluidly transition into the jumper.
While many gush about his pure talent, Porter’s IQ is also a strength as he boasts a great mind both on and off the court. Not only does he have a great knowledge of the game, but he is simply a very well-rounded individual and these qualities shine any time he’s on camera.
The stigma around Porter is obviously the severity of his back injury, which occurred during the beginning of the collegiate season. It is a similar injury and surgery process to ones that have caused long-lasting setbacks for players like Dwight Howard and Elton Brand among others. Porter was miserable in just about every regard when he returned from the surgery. His movements were slow and his ability to create looks for himself had dwindled. Obviously, things will be better when he’s back in peak physical shape with his feet under him, but there is legitimate fear concerning just how much was sapped from Porter that perhaps won’t reemerge once he’s in the NBA.
NBA Comparison: Paul George
While Porter may never match his defensive proficiency, Paul George mirrors him in terms of body frame and volume scoring. Both are exceptional ball handlers, can drive and finish above the rim, and light it up from beyond the arc. Both are equipped with a calm demeanor. a dominant player’s mindset and the simple knowledge of doing what it takes to win.