SportsPulse: 2018 NBA draft prospects describe some of the odd questions team executives have asked during the draft process.
USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK – Michael Porter Jr. is the kind of player who could cost an NBA general manager his job.
Don’t select Porter in Thursday’s draft, and if he turns into a star, the GM who passed possibly made a bad decision.
Draft Porter, and if he doesn’t turn into a star because of his back issue and other draft picks turn into stars, the GM made the wrong decision.
The draft in general comes with risk. Scout, analyze and research, but there’s no guarantee a team makes the right pick.
Porter comes with even more risk because of his health situation. A year ago, he was considered a potential No. 1 pick based on his impressive skill set for a 6-11 forward. But he needed surgery on back discs in November, missed almost all of his freshman season at Missouri and entered the draft shrouded in mystery.
He worked out and disclosed his medical information for a small group of teams on his pro day in Chicago last week.
“I think a few teams are probably still concerned, and I understand that,” Porter said. “But they all have my medical records, my MRIs, and I feel like for the most part, most of them feel comfortable.”
Just before that workout, Porter was bothered by hip spasms, causing more concern.
“We got an MRI,” he said. “It turned out better than the last MRI, so that was good. I was worried for a second, but I was glad to hear that. I feel great now.
“Everybody after my pro day was buzzing. They saw how I performed, how I was moving. I think that got people excited, saw that I’m looking good.”
Is that enough to convince a team in the top five (Phoenix, Sacramento, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas) to take Porter? Teams can’t evaluate him on his brief college career – 53 minutes – but can review his high school career and workouts in which he displayed elite scoring and defensive capabilities.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up in the top five. I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t,” Porter said. “I’m trying to stay open. If I get drafted 15th, it’s going to be the best day of my life. Do you know what I mean? I’m not too concerned about that.”
Porter acknowledged he may not play in the Las Vegas Summer League in July, and there’s a possibility the team that drafts him could keep him off the court next season.
Porter, who was home schooled for much of his pre-college education, seems to have managed a tumultuous situation well. He was peppered with questions about his health on Wednesday and answered graciously. He also had fun with questions about his diet.
He adheres to a vegan diet and works with noted vegan expert Doug Graham. Asked if he misses eating a cheeseburger, Porter said no. He was raised a vegetarian. But he misses pizza with flour-based dough and cheese as opposed to the zucchini-crust, vegan cheese pizza he eats now.
There was a human side of Porter on display Tuesday night at a trading card event hosted by Panini, with whom Porter has an endorsement deal. He isn’t jaded by the experience, which can turn a passion into a cutthroat business quickly.
“This has been a blessing. This is something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time,” he said. “This life isn’t for everybody. It’s for people who really love the sport, and I love the sport and I’m willing to put the work in.
“When I was 3 years old and first picked up a basketball, I knew I loved it. It’s my passion. It’s what I love to do, and it’s what I feel I’m good (at) and that’s what I feel like I was put on this world to do.”
Follow Zillgitt on Twitter @jeffzillgitt