Name: Michael Porter Jr.
Date of birth: June 29, 1998
Weight: 215 lbs
Team: Missouri Tigers
Thanks to his great physical profile, 19-year-old Michael Porter Jr. is widely known as one of the biggest talents in this year’s draft class. He has already managed to impress at various events without even playing a single CBB game. Porter Jr. won the MVP of this year’s McDonald’s All American game and the Nike Hoop Summit. In 2016, he was the leading scorer of the gold medal-winning US squad at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship.
After initially committing to the University of Washington, Porter changed his mind after the Huskies fired their head coach and took his talents to the University of Missouri. Tigers head coach Cuonzo Martin brought the entire Porter family to Columbia by hiring Michael Porter Sr. as an assistant coach and recruiting Porter Sr.’s younger son Jontay to the Mizzou team as well.
Wing with an impressive set of tools
Michael Porter Jr. brings all the tools you want to see from a modern forward hybrid. At 6’10” and fairly long arms, he is longer and taller than most of the other wing prospects in his class. He is also extremely agile, well-coordinated and fast given his height. In transition, he runs down the court with ease and fills lanes to create opportunities for easy baskets. He can even handle the ball a bit and lead the break when he grabs the defensive rebound.
In the half court, he often uses his great athletic gifts to finish above the rim:
Michael Porter Jr. generally shows fairly good instincts in the paint. He has solid timing when crashing the boards, grabbing offensive rebounds, and converting tip-ins and dump-off passes. Porter can also punish mismatches versus smaller opponents in the low post with his great footwork and above average touch. This could be an underrated skill for him should he be able to bulk up a little more.
Porter’s passing is decent at this point in time. He isn’t a frequent creator but showed an above-average basketball IQ as a passer out off the pick n’ roll and as a high-low partner.
If you scout Porter for a bit, you quickly recognize his love of shooting. That is something he should keep doing considering his super clean technique. His shooting motion is quick and fluid, and his release is fairly high.
His one weakness in terms of shooting is catch-and-shoot situations. Porter’s setup changes and becomes a little slower when he doesn’t create his shooting opportunities himself. However, he still has great potential as a shooter aside from this small flaw. His FT% was above 80% last year. In high school, Porter Jr. made over 40% of his shots from beyond the arc. However, when we look at his FIBA U18 Americas performance (30 3P%), we can see that he is not quite there yet and needs to add some consistency.
Work in progress
Shooting consistency will be the first area Porter needs to improve in since this is his bread and butter for contributing to his team. Secondly, Porter will have to improve his decision-making skills. Making the right choice between a jumper, penetration or a post-up doesn’t always come naturally to him, and more experience should result in better decisions and improved efficiency. Thirdly, he desperately has to work on his off-ball game. At the moment, his off-the-ball movements don’t create any value for his team and he doesn’t always space properly. And his feel for cuts is sub-par. This creates a lot of problems for lineups with two traditional bigs which his coach Cuonzo Martin loves to run. This is something that you should keep an eye on during the season. We already know that he should be used as a college four, but it would be nice if he would work as a three at least a little bit as well.
Porter’s biggest problems are manifested on the defensive end. He usually doesn’t use a proper stance, which makes him defend with a fairly high center of gravity. This decreases his lateral speed and overall stability. His closeouts are either rushed or too passive. He brings no value as a helper and often loses his man when he is cutting since he is ball-watching the majority of the time when defending. He is weak at recognizing weak-side actions and rotation schemes in general and is a below average rebounder. Better technique and added core strength could help him a lot as a one-on-one defender. For his overall defensive awareness, Porter needs to study film and receive some hard coaching. Luckily for him, Martin usually has his focus on this side of the ball.
Future #1 pick?
At this point, Porter is a super talented scorer who has a solid work ethic, according to the media. Combining this with his elite athletic tools, he definitely is one of the front-runners for the #1 pick in 2018. However, making him the odds favorite right now seems to be a little far-fetched since there are too many areas he needs to improve on to be a surefire superstar prospect.
Michael Porter Jr. is the most talented scorer of this class. As a natural bucket getter, he can be compared to Kevin Durant and Joe Johnson. Time will tell how multidimensional and efficient his offensive game already really is. To justify the hype he is getting at the moment, Porter needs to show some signs that he can be a solid creator for teammates and also an above average defender.
Senior season (Nathan Hale): 37 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 53 FG%
McDonald’s All-American 2017: 17 PTS, 8 REB, 0 AST and 1 STL in 21 min (MVP)
Nike Hoop Summit 2017: 19 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 1 BLK and 1 STL in 23 min (MVP)
FIBA U18 Americas 2016: 15,8 PPG, 5,6 RPG, 2,4 APG, 53 FG% (6,4/12), 30 TP% (1,2/4)
He is one of the older freshmen in CBB.
Will play together with his younger brother Jontay who was reclassified late this summer.