Michael Porter Jr. has played 53 minutes of non-high-school (and competitive circuit) basketball, is almost certainly not going to be drafted No. 1 overall in next week’s NBA draft, and he still remains one of the biggest basketball storylines of 2018.
Thursday morning, basketball writer Jeff Goodman tweeted a series of... interesting things surrounding Porter’s draft process.
Gonna be interesting to see where MPJ lands next week in the draft. I still think he is second most talented in draft. But health/character questions persist. https://t.co/8a4Ei97adm— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 14, 2018
Numerous NBA executives have questions about Michael Porter Jr. His lack of interaction with his teammates at Missouri (even prior to injury), often seems disinterested. I have spent a good amount of time around MPJ over the years, and have never seen any of this.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 14, 2018
I am a huge fan of MPJ. Just telling you what I have heard throughout the season from multiple NBA guys. https://t.co/cyTXimjEFy— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 14, 2018
First of all, look at L-Bo sticking up for his fellow Tigers!
Second of all, this isn’t the place to address potential “character concerns” from MPJ. From all we could tell, Porter was a well-liked member of the 2017-2018 team. Coach Martin and his teammates spoke highly of him, and everyone involved seemed to be excited to get him back on the floor with his teammates by season’s end.
As for the health? Now that’s a different concern altogether.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania, it appears Porter’s MRI results came back clean, and there’s no harm done. However, the possibility of more injury concerns can’t be a good sign for MPJ unless there’s something very specific at play here - some hush-hush deals between his agents and teams potentially interested in picking him high in next week’s draft.
Porter’s back injury seemingly followed him through much of the past few years and, as a relatively young person who has had back troubles without having to play professional sports, I can tell you they do not go away easily. When the injury pulled him out of the Iowa State game in November, the thought was it might be a hip issue, same as what was reported on Thursday morning. Hip and back issues are commonly connected, so even with a clean bill of health, the presence of hip spasms has to be a concern for NBA teams.
This news also offers an issue for lottery teams from a public relations standpoint. With the presence of talents like Luka Doncic, newly appointed Puma rep Marvin Bagley III, and many others, a struggling franchise would certainly take a hit with fans if they were to take a guy in the lottery who has struggled with injuries for nearly three years - especially if those injuries affect his ability to play in his rookie year.
In truth, there’s no way to know everything that’s going on with Michael Porter Jr. and his health. That is, there’s no way to know outside of what we’re being told. And in the end, reporters are only going to reveal what they are confidently able to confirm is true. With multi-million dollar decisions on the line, that information is likely to be scarce.
When Michael Porter Jr. announced his decision to leave Mizzou and enter the draft after one disappointing season, many people thought the most challenging part of his young career had passed. But Thursday’s head-spinning news cycle makes it seem like this story has legs well beyond Columbia, Mo.