The day after the NBA draft is always interesting. The initial adrenaline rush of the draft starts to wear off, and it’s a time to seriously start looking at the picks with a more coherent view.
For the Denver Nuggets, it’s hard not to be excited about the tantalizing prospect of Michael Porter Jr., selected at 14 (!), playing alongside an already promising core of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Paul Millsap. But the reality is that this may not happen right away due to Porter Jr.’s injury concerns following back surgery late last year. This make’s the selection for Denver all the more intriguing - it could be a home run, but it could also be a strikeout. We just don’t know yet.
Nuggets fans are excited, but how did the major analysts and outlets initially react to Michael Porter Jr.? The early indicators are good for Denver. Take a look below.
The slide ends for Porter, who was linked to Sacramento at no. 2 overall only a few days ago. While Porter’s surgically repaired back may keep him from ever living up to his considerable potential, the 14th pick is way past the point in the draft where he’s worth a roll of the dice. Porter, like Jamal Murray, could thrive playing off of Nikola Jokic. There were concerns about both prospects’ playmaking skills coming out of college, but it doesn’t matter next to the best passing big man of his generation.
ESPN: Big Winner
Rolling the dice on the star power of Michael Porter Jr. -- formerly projected as the No. 1 pick in the draft last summer -- makes sense here. The Nuggets have a deep roster, affording them the possibility of bringing Porter along slowly and doing whatever it takes to get his body right so he can have a long and sustainable NBA career. They should be in no rush to get him on the floor.
If Porter pans out, the Nuggets will have a star on their hands. If not, this is well worth the risk at the end of the lottery.
At this stage of the draft, taking a risk on a top-shelf talent is appropriate.
That’s exactly what Michael Porter Jr. is, considering his remarkable scoring ability. Though a back injury prevented him from displaying that bucket-getting acumen during his brief Missouri career, little doubt exists that his sweet shooting stroke and comfort conducting himself in both on- and off-ball scenarios should translate to the sport’s highest level.
USA Today: Winner
If Porter Jr. has to sit out, there will be no immediate pressure to play, and from his perspective, there will be no pressure to be the face of a franchise given that there’s already an established culture. While Thursday may have been tough for him, it could wind up a better situation than if he were to enter a franchise in complete rebuilding mode.
The health questions were real. A back injury is serious. But Porter had the talent to be a top-three pick, and the value here -- to a team that needs help at forward -- is too good to pass up. The worry? The Nuggets are offensively stacked already. How will they defend?
Sport’s Illustrated: Winner
Denver is fairly well-positioned to take a patient approach with Porter, given that their core group of Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris should return intact. They don’t need Porter on the court until he’s healthy, and they can afford to slow-play his return to form thanks to a decently deep supporting cast.
Porter still has questions to answer about his skill set. Does he use his scoring to make his teammates better? Can he make an impact defensively? Where is his shooting and ball handling at? Still, if he pans out and stays healthy, Porter can be a go-to scorer who can get buckets from all three levels. I can’t believe he fell this far.
If his health is O.K., the Nuggets just got the best pick in the draft. If it isn’t, they wasted an opportunity to add another major piece to go with their three-man core of Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray. Assuming he can keep himself on the court, Porter is a perfect complement to those players.
A healthy Porter could be this draft’s best pure scorer, with shot creation abilities similar to Jayson Tatum. But the health is a serious question mark, as some NBA personnel folks expect Porter to miss most (if not all) of his rookie season. A healthy Porter (particularly one with a massive chip on his shoulder after this precipitous fall down the draft) is a franchise-altering talent, and the Nuggets should be commended for taking a home-run swing to try to dig themselves out of that No. 9-seed purgatory they seem perpetually trapped in.