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University of Missouri freshman forward Michael Porter Jr. underwent back surgery last week and will miss the remainder of the college basketball season.
Porter Jr. was widely projected to be a top five pick in next year’s NBA draft. Executives around the league are mixed on how Porter’s injury will impact his future.
David Aldridge of NBA.com spoke to various front office personnel about Porter Jr., and while some are concerned about the back ailment, Porter Jr. is still expected to be a top pick in the 2018 draft assuming he makes a full recovery.
“If it’s a standard microdiscectomy, it shouldn’t be much of an issue,” one general manager said Sunday via text. “If it’s more than that, the result could be of greater impact. If he can do a few draft workouts, he should be just fine. It may play out like the (Joel) Embiid draft where Joel was affected by a couple picks (because of the foot), but not much beyond that.”
“No doubt it hurts him,” another exec said. “Obviously the medical evaluation will be more important and often times as we know, the agents with players at this level withhold information from most of the teams so it will be an interesting decision as to how they handle. Backs are like knees and serious foot/ankle injuries. Tough ones.”
“It depends obviously on the outcome of the procedure and level of rehab success,” a third GM said. “But it would take a real problematic situation to cause a big draft slip. He should stay well inside the Top 5.”
“Every team in the top 5 in the lottery will do their medical due diligence and see the potential long-term impact,” a fourth GM texted Sunday. “They will also compare his talent upside to the other top players in the draft. His lack of body of work could either hurt or help him based on how well Doncic, Bagley, and Ayton play throughout the year.”
Said another longtime personnel man: “He will still be a top five pick but might not go number 1 now. Almost like Embiid. If he were healthy, he would have been number 1 but with injury went 3. It depends where the gap is from top tier to next tier. If teams see 5 guys at the top he goes 5. If they see 3 guys he goes 3.”
“If there are no complications and he makes a complete recovery, the surgery will not have any bearing on his draft position for me,” the pro personnel man said. “But, I believe it will change how other people and ownership look at it.”
“This will be like any other injury,” an assistant GM said. “You have to get as much information as possible and then determine if it is worth risk. However, back issues are generally more concerning than most. It’s gonna come down to information, information, & more information.”
And another: “It’ll be hard to take him #1, but unlikely he drops out of top 5 IMO.”
Porter Jr. will compete with Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley Jr. and DeAndre Ayton for the top draft slots.