The Internet is nothing if not reliable. The day after a given college season ends, it’s time for every sports website in the country to produce a “WAY TOO EARLY PRESEASON TOP 25” list. And the day after a major sports draft, it’s time for a “WAY TOO EARLY [NEXT YEAR’S] DRAFT PROJECTION.”
From a Mizzou perspective, WAY TOO EARLY NBA DRAFT projections aren’t typically attention getters. Despite the preponderance of lottery talent in and around the state, the Tigers have had only one first-round pick since 2005, and even Demarre Carroll (the No. 27 pick in 2009) wasn’t on the WAY TOO EARLY lists the year before.
That will most likely change in a significant way about 52 weeks from now. Missouri has, after all, signed the top high school prospect in the country, and after what will almost certainly be a one-and-done season, Michael Porter Jr. is projected awfully high in those WAY TOO EARLY lists.
- SB Nation: No. 2
It only takes one look at Michael Porter Jr. to see why scouts have been closely monitoring him for years. At 6’10, he can put the ball on the floor and shoot it with range. He’s an elite athlete who should be a matchup nightmare at either forward spot. He’s also a gifted scorer who already counts Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant as mentors before he plays his first college game.
The best way to describe Porter is as a really good swing man who just won’t stop growing. Currently 6’10, Porter plays like a wing and possesses a rare combination of great touch and explosive athletic ability. He played for Brandon Roy during his senior year in high school and their games are actually somewhat similar. He isn’t a great ball handler or passer and his defense could use some work (which is the case for almost all prep players), but if he ends up as a 6’11 combo forward – which it looks like he will – those weaknesses shouldn’t hold him back. He has a chance to lead the league in scoring, while still being efficient.
Worst Case: A taller Rudy Gay
Best Case: Kevin Durant
- Rivals.com: No. 1
I’ve said it before that I feel Porter is a better NBA prospect than anybody in this year’s loaded draft. He has superior size, he is a big-time athlete and his skill level is off the charts.
- CBS Sports: No. 2
Like Jayson Tatum, but a tick better in every way: Bigger, stronger, with a better shot and better defensive abilities. Immediately turns the Kings into a young franchise on the rise.
The primary competition for the top spot will evidently come from three players: Arizona signee DeAndre Ayton (a 7-footer and the former No. 1 in the 247Sports Composite), Texas signee Mohamed Bamba (now No. 2 in the Composite), and 18-year old Real Madrid star Luka Doncic.
SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell has been crazy-high on Doncic for a while.
At just 18 years old, Doncic is already one of the best players on one of the best teams in the world outside of the NBA. He profiles as a 6’8 point-forward with preternatural vision and advanced passing and ball-handling skills. He also has a nice three-point stroke and a crafty repertoire of floaters to score around the rim.
Best of all, Doncic has an escape clause in his contract which should mean he plays in the NBA as a rookie. The hype is going to be off the charts for this young man over the next year. Get familiar with him now.
In the end, it might depend on team need as much as anything else, but Porter’s very much in the conversation for the top spot. It’s an exciting time to be a Mizzou fan again.