Draft Profile: Will Michael Porter Jr. Meet NBA Expectations?

Missouri Athletics Department

The Hawks hold the rights to the #3, #19, #30 and #34 picks in the upcoming June 21 NBA Draft. At Hawks.com, we'll be talking to some of the writers and bloggers who watched some of this year's key prospects most closely. 

Today we speak to Alec Lewis, former Missouri beat writer for the Columbia Missourian, about University of Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr.

What does Michael do well?

Michael Porter Jr. scores the basketball. Period. Over the course of his high school years — prior to his undergoing the microdiscectomy procedure on his back this past year — Porter Jr. built his reputation with the ball in his hands. He hits the 3-ball.

He can attack the basket. He can play a bit out of the post. Health contingent, one of Porter Jr.’s strengths at the next level will clearly be his athleticism and his rebounding ability. But regardless, you can guarantee he will score the basketball.

What was his most memorable moment in college?

Sitting at his locker after Missouri lost to Florida State in the NCAA Tournament, Porter Jr. answered questions with tears in his eyes. He’d just lost his second-straight game — in what was only his third college game — and it was apparent how much he wanted to help Missouri. That’s why he made the decision to return after months of rehab. And it was interesting to see how much the loss hurt him.

How does his game translate to the NBA?

Simply looking at Porter Jr.’s measurables from the NBA Draft Combine — 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot wingspan — it’s easy to see why Porter Jr.’s game translates to the NBA. He’s long, he can take the ball off of the bounce and has the athleticism to elevate. In today’s NBA, with switching on defense and with what’s needed on offense, Porter Jr. has exactly what you need.

What can he do to improve?

Without a doubt, Michael Porter Jr. must improve his strength at the NBA level. In high school, with his size, Porter Jr. muscled defenders out of the lane to score. Not to mention, defensively, his height allowed him to tower over defenders. To defend at the NBA level — something I think Porter Jr. could make a strength out of in the NBA — he needs to put on some muscle. Being a star and the focal point of the team all of his basketball life, I also think it will be interesting to see how he adjusts and develops in an NBA system.

What style of play suits his game best?

Michael Porter Jr. will thrive playing uptempo with his ability to score, but I also think he has the ability to play in isolation. I think the coach who can foster the most defensive growth in Porter Jr. will benefit the most.

To which current or past NBA player would you compare him?

I think the NBA players that are most similar to Michael Porter Jr. are Otto Porter Jr. — no relation, although that would be quite fit — or Harrison Barnes. Both have similar body types, and they each share Michael Porter Jr.’s ability to score.