NBA Draft Rumors: Clippers to target Michael Porter Jr.?

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 16: Michael Porter Jr.
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 16: Michael Porter Jr. /

Armed with two first-round picks, the Los Angeles Clippers may be eyeing a move up to get Michael Porter Jr.

The Los Angeles Clippers narrowly missed the playoffs this year, which has put their own first-round pick at No. 13. They acquired the Detroit Pistons’ first-round pick in the Blake Griffin trade, and that’s No. 12 overall. But according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the Clippers are “open to moving up in the draft” with their eye on Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr.

Porter’s lone collegiate season was shortened by a back injury and subsequent surgery, as he only played 53 minutes in three games. But at 6-foot-10 and 215 pounds, he projects as a versatile combo forward and he was in the conversation as a potential No. 1 overall pick this year before being injured at the outset of his freshman season.

As it is, Porter Jr. is projected to go No. 8 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in recent mock drafts from ESPN and Sporting News. Most teams picking in the top-10 may want to stay put though, and O’Connor contradicted previous rumors the Memphis Grizzlies are open to trading the No. 4 pick.

For what it’s worth, O’Connor also noted how Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer stopped his media session at the NBA Combine to hear Porter Jr.’s interview. Griffin is already gone, and DeAndre Jordan is sure to opt-out of his contract with no guarantee he’ll be back. So the Clippers could use a new, young star. Two late lottery picks in a deep draft may uncover one by chance, but there’s something to be said for targeting a potential superstar, vetting him and making a move up to get him.

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Porter Jr. and Tobias Harris, who was acquired in the Griffin deal and averaged 19.3 points per game over 32 games for the Clippers, look like virtual replicas of each other as athletic, versatile forwards. But in today’s NBA, there’s no such thing as too much flexibility and versatility.