Michael Porter Jr. joined the Missouri Tigers as one of the top recruits in the entire nation, but he suffered a serious back injury in the season opener against the Iowa State Cyclones. However, he has since been cleared to resume basketball activities, and many basketball fans are hopeful that he will return to play for the Tigers and give them a late-season spark to boost their chances of making the NCAA tournament and making a deep run. On the other hand, some basketball analysts believe that he can hurt his draft stock if he returns too early and reinjures his back or is rusty due to the long layoff. The Missouri coaching staff has not made their plans public, and no one knows if he will decide to return or wait out the rest of the season. Here are just a few of the risks and rewards of this critical decision and how it can have a lasting impact on his future NBA career.
NCAA Legacy Many college basketball fans believed that Michael Porter Jr. would have a significant impact on the Missouri Tigers, as he was rated as the second-best recruit in ESPN's top 100 rankings. Of course, he was unable to finish his first game due to injury, which has become a major disappointment for Missouri fans. However, by returning to action, he can possibly have the storybook ending on helping the Missouri Tigers compete for a championship in the NCAA tournament. Nevertheless, returning to play for the Tigers has a few risks, as he may reinjure his back or initially struggle, as he tries to regain his previous form. Only time will tell if he decides that it's worth it to return to the court or wait until the upcoming draft.
NBA Draft Projections The vast majority of draft experts believe that Porter Jr. will be selected with a top-five pick, despite suffering a serious back injury that required him to have surgery. However, he can potentially damage his draft stock if he rushes his return and suffers another significant injury. Instead, many believe that it is much safer for him to wait out the season and focus on preparing for the NBA Draft. While this isn't news that any Missouri Tigers fan wants to hear, it is the safest route, as NBA scouts already have plenty of tapes to review from his stellar high school playing career.
Worth the Risk? NBA teams drafting near the top will have the difficult decision of selecting Porter Jr. or deciding to choose someone else that isn't returning from a severe injury. If Porter Jr. decides to never suit up again for the Missouri Tigers, many NBA teams will have to consider if his limited playing time will have any negative effect on his draft stock. Of course, there will also be injury concerns, as having back problems at such a young age can lead to an injury-plagued career that can be devastating to any team drafting Porter Jr. in hopes of him becoming a franchise player. However, on the other side of the argument, Porter Jr. may develop into a franchise-changing superstar and cause NBA teams to regret not drafting him. Either way, NBA teams must thoroughly research the pros and cons of selecting Michael Porter Jr. in the upcoming NBA draft.
The next few weeks will be fascinating, as Porter Jr. makes the decision of returning near the end of the Missouri Tigers season or if he decides to sit out and wait for the upcoming draft. Of course, nothing is ever guaranteed, and Porter Jr. must make the decision that is in the best interests of his basketball career. Whatever the choice, it will have a significant impact on his future NBA career and can be the difference between the Missouri Tigers making the NCAA tournament or falling just short.