If Lakers 2-5 pick to Celtics - high risk/high reward Michael Porter, Jr.?
No one questions Michael Porter's talent, only his NBA future after undergoing back surgery at the very start of his college season at the University of Missouri. The microdiscectomy performed on Porter has a recovery period of several months, but there are no guarantees of a problem-free pro basketball career down the line. Here is SBNation's Ricky O'Donnell on Michael's injury, subsequent surgery and prognosis:
Make no mistake, back injuries are terrifying for athletes even if most recover fully. That’s even true for a 19-year-old like Porter Jr.
The most famous recent example of a basketball player to undergo a microdiscectomy is Dwight Howard. Howard had the procedure done in April 2012 before he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Anyone who saw him play in LA knew he didn’t look like the same agile, limber center that dominated the league as a member of the Orlando Magic even six months after the surgery.
There’s always a chance back pain can become chronic following a microdiscectomy. It’s possible Porter could have some lingering stiffness that limits his lateral quickness and flexibility. It’s something NBA teams will have to weigh heavily before pulling the trigger on Porter as a likely top-five pick in June’s draft.
The Celtics have some experience drafting a player with a similar back problem. Jared Sullinger was predicted to be a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA draft but fell to Boston at the 21st spot, most likely due to back issues. Jared underwent back surgery in his rookie year and didn't play the rest of the season. He played four seasons in Boston and enjoyed only moderate success in the League.
In his final season at Nathan Hale High School (WA), Michael averaged 37.0 points with terrific accuracy from everywhere while adding 14.3 rebounds. DraftExpress used the terms "fluidity", "leaping ability", "reach", "glides in transition" and "really smooth shooting stroke". One NBA team will see at least some of Jayson Tatum in him and take the gamble.
This 6'10", 215-pound Porter had been predicted to be a one of the top two or three picks in the 2018 draft, but he may drop due to the injury, surgery and uncertainty of his health going forward. He is still ranked in the top-5 picks in most mock drafts. I doubt he will fall much below the 5th pick before being picked up. His projected position will most likely be small forward in the NBA. A healthy Michael Porter would seem to be a good fit on the Boston Celtics. Danny Ainge is known as a gambler, and if Porter falls far enough in the draft, he may try to find a way to get him, even without using the Lakers pick.
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