The medical history of 19-year-old forward Michael Porter Jr. has become a major source of consternation amongst teams drafting in the top half of the 2018 NBA Draft lottery.
Following Friday’s evaluation day in front of a small group of lottery teams, including the Sacramento Kings, information has become scarce.
According to Yahoo!’s Jordan Schultz, “everything was clean and that his back was better than expected.”
Porter underwent microdiscectomy surgery of the L3-L4 spinal discs on Nov. 21 after playing just two minutes of ball for the Missouri Tigers. Seven months removed from the surgery, Porter was forced to cancel and then reschedule a workout on Friday due to hip spasms.
On Monday, Porter joined The Will Cain show on ESPN to discuss his health, the nearly cancelled meeting with teams and what kind of impact he can make at the NBA level. He’s confident that his back issues are behind him and he said he’s been in contact with teams in the 2-6 range in the upcoming draft.
"It was just a little sore, so I told [my agent] my hip was kind of sore and he just wanted to shut it down for a couple of days," Porter told Cain. "And then people took that and kind of ran with it, saying, you know, my hip was injured, I couldn't get out of bed. ... None of that was really true. I was just sore and I wanted to take a couple of days off. So that's all that was."
Lottery teams, including the Kings, were present for Friday’s physical exam. Sacramento has had Porter high on the their draft board for a while. Pending a closer evaluation and a deep dig into his medicals, he was under consideration for Sacramento’s No. 2 overall pick.
"I feel good,” Porter told Cain. “I got evaluated. I let the doctors come in and do all their tests on me. I'm feeling good. I think the teams are comfortable"
So what happens now?
The Porter dilemma has always been complicated, but even more so if you’re the Kings. If healthy, Porter is a legitimate top prospect in the 2018 NBA Draft.
After measuring in at 6-foot-10.75 at the combine, with over a 7-foot wingspan, Sacramento’s infatuation with the forward grew. But like the rest of the league, the injury history is a concern and his body of work at the college level totaled 53 minutes.
“My back feels back to normal, I have no issues with it and there’s no risk of reinjury,” Porter said. “Every MRI I’ve gotten is perfect. It looks good. There’s no questions around it anymore and I’m just continuing to take care of my body and make strides day-by-day.”
Porter dominated the high school scene and came into this season as one of the top rated prep players. There is plenty of tape of Porter starring for Team USA at the Nike Hoop Summit, as well as his MVP performance at the McDonald’s All-American game.
A natural scorer, Porter could instantly slide into the starting small forward position for the Kings, as well as give them option at the stretch four position. He can score at all three levels and projects as an eventual number one offensive option.
“I think I’m just going to be an immediate impact guy that will help transform a franchise,” a confident Porter said. “I feel like I can do so many things on the court. I’m the perfect fit for today’s NBA game. I want to go in there and be special from the jump.”
Like most college players coming into the NBA, Porter will need to work on his defensive game. He has the size and instincts to defend, but he needs to get stronger and give a more consistent effort.
The Kings have been quiet on Porter since Friday. They are still considering other prospects, including European star Luka Doncic and Duke’s Marvin Bagley III. With the draft just a couple days away, Sacramento has a potential franchise altering decision to make.