Throwing around a name like Kevin Durant as Michael Porter Jr.’ NBA player comparison is, at this point in his career, very unfair. The measurable’s can be compared, standing 6”10 in shoes with a wingspan at 7 feet and a standing reach of 9 feet, Porter Jr. would look eerily similar to Durantula. But that’s where they should stop.
What I would argue, is that at the end of the lottery, after teams void of a potential closer passed on the injured phenom, this pick has the potential to be a major steal for the Nuggets. This past season the Nuggets saw a passing of the guard from what they probably thought would be their closer, Paul Millsap, who missed a large chunk of the season due to injury, give up his title but not his salary to the Uber skilled Nikola Jokic who seems to be a potential all-star for years to come.
Now the Nuggets have a dilemma; Millsap is paid to close out games at 30 million per, but the team clearly favours Jokic because of his ability to make plays for others. Enter Porter Jr., a player that has a completely different skill set to Jokic and has the wingspan, athleticism and killer instinct to be shot making closer in the near future to eventually replace Millsap, adding dynamic component to the roster.
Millsap and Jokic when on the floor together, have similar playmaking strengths from the top of the key. Because they are usually matched up against an opposing front court player who is unwilling to switch onto Jamal Murray, Will Barton(hopefully) and Gary Harris. Jokic is a better fit in this role. He reads defenses better and is able to locate his shooters at all times. Millsap’s greatest strength is iso game, that can bog down the offense allowing the defense to zero in, but at the same time because of his strength and guile, gets buckets and gets to the free throw line.
Throw in the Porter Jr. to this mix. On tape he seems to be an efficient 2-3 dribble shot creator in the iso game and the early transition game. His handle is average at this point, but because he wants to pull up or create space for his jumper, it’s serviceable enough. His strength is what he most needs to improve on, especially since his back injury forced him to play only 53 minutes at Mizzou this year and will probably limit his effectiveness in year 1. As Millsap’s contract expires in 2020, at 35 years old. Porter Jr. should be ready to become the iso closing wing, that in the fourth quarter will be able to close out games with Jokic.
Because of his size and wingspan, there are only handful of people in the world that can guard a 6”10 shooter with serviceable ball handling and fluid athleticism. Who’s 6”10 and can cover a perimeter wing in the NBA, that by 2020 will be able to have the fluidity to cover at 6”10 shooter who at one point had explosive athleticism to the rim. Jayson Tatum is 6”8, I don’t think Porter Jr. has the instincts that Tatum has but they would definitely have to cover each other. The Greek Freak has a major strength and reach advantage on Porter Jr. Kevin Durant is a top two player in the world arguably so he’ll have no problem covering him. LeBron James will be out of his prime by this point, but I’m in no position to question what he can and can’t do. Anthony Davis usually covers the 5 position but he could find himself covering the young man. Ben Simmons, Paul George and Aaron Gordon have the length and athleticism to handle him as well.
The point I’m trying to make is that there are a handful of players in the world who are over 6”8 and can move like Porter Jr. And if he can find his pre-Mizzou athleticism he could be cut out of this cloth as well. Because of this fact, Porter Jr. has the potential to be a closer in the NBA and taking him at the end of lottery could prove to be a steal. How Chicago passed on him still boggles my mind. The Nuggets don’t have this type of player yet, but in two or three years, they might.