For Bulls fans, the idea of drafting another player with serious knee injury concerns is no doubt a very worrying thought. But when it comes to former University of Missouri big man Jontay Porter, Bulls fans should be fairly optimistic if they franchise is able to grab the uber-talented youngster with their No. 38 overall pick.
Porter, despite being only 19 years old, has the game of a 10-year NBA veteran. The first thing that you notice when you look at Porter’s numbers from his brief college stint is his awesome playmaking stats. He put up 5.4 assists per 100 possessions (19.6 percent assist rate), and was comfortable finding the open man whether he initiated the offense from the top of the key or the post.
Jontay Porter with an active 24 points 7 rebounds and 6 assist last night. Here are some offensive highlights from the Freshman. Starting with his assist, and then his scoring. The last clip is a floater that Jontay has been struggling to consistently knock down in the paint. pic.twitter.com/CDTVu8z0lm— NBA Draft Wire (@NBADraftWire) February 28, 2018
For any team that needs to add more passing--cough, cough, looks at the Bulls ranking in 25th in assist percentage--Porter’s desire to find the open man is the start of his NBA appeal.
Despite being a player who looks to create for his teammates first, Porter is a very capable scorer. He is by no means a “jump-out-the-gym” athlete, instead relying on his guile and feathery soft touch on jump shots to put the ball in the basket. Per Hoop-Math.com, he shot 45.5 percent on 2-point jump shots and with only 16.8 percent of his shots coming at the rim. This is important because it shows that Porter has nice touch on his floaters and short-midrange shots, which will take on massive importance against dominant shot blockers in the NBA.
Porter's use of shot-fakes and subtle head movements make him a difficult cover for impatient defenders.
Porter’s offensive versatility is--like almost everything else in his game--completely tied to his sky-high basketball IQ. He is a solid shooter, hitting 36.4 percent of his 110 attempts from 3-point range. The 6-foot-11, 240 lb. Porter uses his wide frame to set great screens, which when combined with his shooting touch makes him quite the pick-and-pop threat on offense.
One of my favorite and most clear-cut comparisons for Jontay is Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. In the clip below, he shows yet again how his patience is his best attribute. After turning down the pick-and-pop 3-point shot, Porter drives into the paint to draw the help defender and then promptly finds the open man for a dunk.
The fact that Jontay Porter is 6-foot-11 and can attack closeouts to create for others is a special skill. If his jumper is legit, that's gonna make things even tougher. How many PFs and Cs in the NBA can be a pick-and-pop guy, beat poor closeouts and find the open man? pic.twitter.com/buEUZyR3Yk— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) October 12, 2018
Injuries obviously effect so much a young player’s game but Porter’s basketball IQ can’t be sapped by knee issues.
His intelligence on the court is obvious on both ends on the floor. Porter averaged 2.7 blocks and 1.4 steals per 40 minutes and was active rotating over on help defense. Despite the fact that he was prone to occasionally over-helping, Porter always kept his eyes on both ball and man. His attention to detail allows him to force turnovers--2.1 percent steal rate and 7.3 percent block rate--and instantly turn them into efficient transition opportunities.
Jontay Porter is a very exciting prospect. High basketball IQ, can stretch the floor, has the ability to initiate the offense an anchor the defense, and makes high level passing reads. pic.twitter.com/vdeUY0o6jK— NBA Draft Wire (@NBADraftWire) June 26, 2018
Porter would’ve no doubt been a first round pick had he not gotten injured and could’ve been a lottery pick had he turned in another great year with significantly more playing time. The skills that made him such an enticing prospect are still there, they just need to be expanded upon as he works his way back into game shape.
No matter what site(s) or scouting reports you look at in regards to Porter, you will see a mention of his lack of elite athleticism. Porter was never the most explosive athlete to begin with and obviously multiple ACL tears don’t bode well for his chances of getting anywhere near becoming one.
I use per 40 minute stats quite a bit when discussing Porter because it amplifies his strengths and weaknesses, and that shows up quite a bit when it comes to his defensive struggles. Porter averaged a whopping 4.8 personal fouls per 40 minutes during his freshman season.
A big reason for these foul issues is that Porter often found himself stuck in between being a PF and C when it comes to matchups. The NBA’s positionless future makes that less of an issue for him, but he still will struggle to defend NBA-sized centers in the post.
Porter’s pick-and-roll defense is going to be way more important to his NBA longevity than his post defense, and that should give scouts some pause when it comes to discussing Porter’s draft stock. His ability to move laterally is the No. 1 thing that the NBA team that selects him should be concerned about. Porter had trouble bottling up quick guards coming off of screens, and much like his comparison Nikola Jokic, he will need to showcase the ability to play in hedge and drop back coverages on defnse.
If Porter can limit the amount of times he is beat (badly) off the dribble on straight-line drives, he will be able to corral guards and lead them into the help defense. But with such a long way to go before we know what Porter will look at 100 percent, it is tough to sell people on the idea that his defense won’t take several steps back before it takes a few steps forward.
Long term outlook:
Jontay Porter is too smart and too skilled of a basketball player to flame out of the NBA. That being said, the multiple ACL tears means that the margin of error for Porter whenever he hits the NBA--or G League--floor is going to be very small.
To continue down the developmental path that it looked like he was headed down his freshman season, Porter simply needs to continue to keep his positive attitude and work on fine tuning his body in preparation for the speed of the pro game.
For a Bulls team that is woefully short on playmakers and has no discernible bench unit to speak of, Porter could be the ultimate diamond in the rough. A player of his talent level would have no chance of lasting to the No. 38 overall pick under normal circumstances, but the injury history will scare enough teams off that Porter could go anywhere from the first round to the very last pick of the draft, as NBA mock drafts have his stock all over the place. The Bulls may have an argument for playing it safe with the No. 7 pick, choosing to select a PG over the best player available to fill out what they fill is a solid starting unit/core group. But there is no such argument that could made about the second round of the NBA draft.
The second round is for NBA front offices with excellent scouting staffs to mine value out of unheralded or undervalued prospects, and if he is available, there will be no better second round value in the 2019 draft than Jontay Porter.