Michael Porter Jr. was once considered one of the clear best two or three prospects in the 2018 NBA Draft, but with one week to go before draft night, concerns about his long-term health that have trailed him all season are becoming more pronounced. Despite playing just 53 minutes for Mizzou last season after recovering from back surgery, Porter could still go as early as second, and the Kings appear to be legitimately interested in him. After all, he is a 6-foot-11 wing player with a good-looking shot. The problem is, nobody knows how injured he is, and the way his management is handling the pre-draft process is only making things worse.
Normally, top prospects work out for a handful of NBA teams and go in for physical examinations with each team’s medical staff. However, Porter’s father said last week that they would not be releasing his son’s medical information to NBA teams or traveling for any workouts. Instead, they would host a pre-planned “pro day” workout at the Bulls’ facility for interested teams and only allow the Bulls’ medical staff to examine Porter. The Bulls’ report would then be the only medical exam they would share with lottery teams looking at Porter.
This is alarming for a number of reasons, one of which is that the Bulls’ medical staff is infamously unreliable. The period of time right before the NBA Draft is rife with misinformation, leaks, counter-leaks, fake leaks, and all manner of intel designed to obfuscate the true intentions of teams and top prospects. Porter hiding his medical records and only conducting a staged workout is a clear indication that he either has something to hide or is trying to sabotage his own draft stock in order to stay away from Sacramento or land with one of the bigger teams picking later in the lottery, like, say, Chicago.
The Bulls conducted the physical, and Porter was set to allow lottery teams to examine his back, but he canceled yesterday’s scheduled workout. This morning, Porter canceled a second workout, which was scheduled for Friday, because of a different injury. According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, the prospect is suffering from a strained hip and “couldn’t get out of bed because of muscle spasms.” The workout is apparently in the process of being rescheduled, though the draft is one week away, so it seems unlikely that Porter will really ever work out in front of the NBA teams that are considering taking him. Worse still, teams like the Kings won’t get to see for themselves how injured Porter really is.
So is this all a smokescreen designed to stay the hell out of Sacramento? Or is Porter really broken and crumbling? The answer won’t become clear for months, but whoever selects Porter will be making the boldest and riskiest selection of this year’s draft.