Before we kick-off the CelticsHub 2017-18 NBA draft coverage, I need to just get this out of the way.
The 2018 pick, in a draft with potentially good bigs and Michael Porter, Jr. should be untouchable for the Cs. Nets will 100% stink again https://t.co/SwCdusgGXS
— Ryan Mahanna (@RyanMahannaNBA) February 22, 2017
This is why the 2018 Nets pick should be untouchable https://t.co/1KQu4nwKLN
— Ryan Mahanna (@RyanMahannaNBA) February 24, 2017
Very few unicorns in 2017. At the deadline, I was alone with my concern about the Cs protecting 2018, here's why https://t.co/CPaTwR3WqJ
— Ryan Mahanna (@RyanMahannaNBA) March 31, 2017
— Ryan Mahanna (@RyanMahannaNBA) April 7, 2017
Friends don't let friends trade the 2018 Nets pick https://t.co/XSxPZ9cwwY
— Ryan Mahanna (@RyanMahannaNBA) April 8, 2017
Whelp, here we are now. Kyrie Irving in hand, no more unprotected 2018 Nets pick, and a shot to select 2-5 in this year’s draft. Just to be clear, I immediately jumped head first into the spin zone after the late summer blockbuster trade (because that’s what I do) and I’m in a good place with it now. Selfishly, I was more upset with how it effected our CelticsHub draft coverage than anything else. However, the darkness that is lurking below all of this is how quickly and violently my feelings will re-emerge when the tantalizing high-end quality of the 2018 draft comes to fruition and the prospect that I have been the most excited about for past 3 years, Michael Porter Jr., becomes a generational talent at the top of the draft. My hope is that he slips, which is a sick thing to hope happens to a teenager, but he would be a fantastic fit with the Celtics and is a truly special prospect.
At CelticsHub this year we will be focusing on a potentially fluid list of the top 5 prospects and track their progress throughout the season. Since the Celtics will only select in this year’s draft if the Los Angeles Lakers fall between the 2nd and 5th pick, it doesn’t make sense for Cs fans to get familiar with more than a handful of lottery prospects. In the weeks leading up to the college basketball season we will be introducing some of the names you should start to get to know and the number one reason why you should get excited about them. First up: Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter, Jr.
Missouri~Freshman~Wing~6’10 (7’0″ wingspan), 216 lbs
Draft Range: Top 5
Ceiling Comp Group: Paul George, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Durant
60 Words or Less: “Ball is Life” is not a cliche for the Porters. Porter Jr.’s dad, aunt, two sisters and brother are all a part of the Missouri basketball family and Michael is the best of the bunch. MPJ embodies what every coach and front office executive is searching for in 2017; a 6’10 wing who is both offensively skilled and athletically gifted.
#1 Reason To Get Excited About Michael Porter Jr.-Modern Positional Flexibility.
If you haven’t been paying attention, Danny Ainge has been slowly building a basketball army of 6’7″-6’9″, 200-235 lb wings that can play multiple positions, make shots, and defend. In preparation for a basketball future where everyone will have to guard everyone and make a play from the perimeter, Michael Porter Jr. would be a great addition to the ranks. MPJ is 6’10 with a 7’0″ wingspan and a 9’0″ standing reach. He’s thin right now, but he has broad shoulders and a face that doesn’t require much shaving. Does this look like a young man who’s done growing?
Porter Jr. is an old-school run and jump athlete whose vast physical gifts appear to be effortless. It’s not because he was dominating suburban Seattle kids. His length and athleticism will only be matched once he gets to the pro-level. Defensively, Porter Jr. should be able to defend 2 through stretch 4, switch onto smaller ball-handlers, and use his length to alter shots on and off the ball .
All of the tools are there and I have no reason to think the desire wouldn’t come along with it. If I know anything about a coach’s son, it’s that he’s rarely lazy and often smart. Between his dad, his aunt (the women’s coach at Mizzou), his sisters and his high school coach (the great Brandon Roy), Porter Jr. hasn’t gotten away with cutting corners in a way the young and gifted often do. Here he is at the Jamal Crawford Pro-Am, after a turnover, turning on the jets and erasing his mistake (courtesy of Ballislife.com)
And at the Steph Curry Elite Camp, snuffing out one of his peers pull-up jimbos.
You don’t have to go very deep into the internet to find some of his breath taking finishes, so I don’t think a dunk montage is necessary. I do think a picture is worth a few dozen words.
(Yes, that is a regulation hoop)
Offensively, MPJ should be able to use his size and touch to score in any setting. His shooting is ahead of his ball handling, but his overall skill set is trending in the right direction and he has no glaring holes in his game that would prevent him from attacking defenders at all levels of the court. I love his shooting mechanics and there aren’t many defenders that should be able to bother a release point that is 11-12 feet off the ground. Porter Jr.’s catch-and-shoot rhythm is compact and quick, especially for his size (courtesy of makeplayz.com).
MJP has has already a developed a nice rhythm “hang” dribble into his shooting motion, which is effective when navigating switches.
As well as the dribble-in 3 against retreating bigs
Attacking closeouts with step-backs and strong finishes shouldn’t be a problem, especially as he begins to fill out.
Porter Jr. also shows body control and fluidity in open spaces that is rare for a player his age.
If you’re counting at home, that’s 3 dribbles and 4 steps through traffic, from half-court, against the #7 high school team in the country. Oh, and there’s even the beginning stages of post-up game.
On the surface, this just looks like an easy dunk, but the footwork on the catch and approach is much more difficult that you’d think. It’s clear he has a feel for timing and spacing.
The one area that most scouts will be focusing on throughout the upcoming season is how his ball handling under pressure progress (he plays a bit vertical and the handle gets outside of his body) and what strides he takes as a pick-and-roll creator. Without being to absurd, future all-stars with his frame-type were not anywhere near as polished and Porter Jr. is at this stage and there are times when I feel like I’m watching a 24 year-old Tracy McGrady. I hope Michael Porter Jr. has a great season at Missouri and I would be shocked if he isn’t spectacular.
For Celtics’ fans it wouldn’t be the worst thing if he slipped on draft boards just a bit.