5(ish) targets for the Grizzlies in the 2018 draft

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 7: Mike Conley /
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Michael Porter Jr (#13) of the Missouri Tigers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Michael Porter Jr (#13) of the Missouri Tigers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

I’m torn on Michael Porter Jr. for a couple reasons — first and foremost, he missed all but three games of his freshman season at Missouri with a back injury.

Back back surgery at 18 years old is not a box you want to check for a potential top pick.

He’s looked healthy in workouts though as well as at the draft combine. He looked stiff and uncomfortable when he came back at the end of Missouri’s season but recently, the flexibility and explosiveness that he showed coming into college is back. The larger concern isn’t whether or not he will be healthy soon though, it’s the fact that this injury is often a recurring one.

The fact that he is still unanimously viewed as a lottery pick, potentiality even a top-three pick,  says a lot about what team’s see in his potential. Porter was the number one player in this class coming out of high school last season and he took home MVP honors at the McDonald’s All-America game last spring so he can play.

Offensively, the first thing that stands out about Porter is his shooting ability. He didn’t have the opportunity to showcase it at Missouri, but he might be the best pure shooter in this draft class. He has range from well beyond the three-point arc, can stop on a dime and pull up in traffic, and at 6-foot-10, he can shoot over pretty much any defender at any level.

On top of his shooting touch, he handles the ball and runs the floor with the fluidity of a guard. And again, with his 6-foot-10 frame, he covers the length of the court in five or six strides. As a senior in high school MPJ averaged 37 points a game. He pretty much scored whenever and however he wanted but a lot of those point came from running the floor and his teammates finding him in transition.

His style of player isn’t overly physical, largely because he’s been able to blow by or shoot over everyone he’s ever played against. He doesn’t throw his weight around down-low or out-muscle opponents but he has a knack for rebounding. He’s crafty, has good timing, an insane vertical, and great touch on the offensive glass.

Beyond the injury concerns, his defense is somewhat of a question mark. He has the athleticism and size to be more than a capable defender but he’s never really had to play in a defensive system like he’ll have to in the NBA. It may take some time for him to adjust to playing team defense, switching on picks, or sliding over the help protect the rim. If he can develop into even an average defender, his offensive ability should vastly outweigh any defensive shortcomings.

Porter should be able to play the three or a small-ball four. He’s a very different player from Doncic but both would add high level perimeter shooting, another ball handler who can create shots and Porter even more so, another presence on the boards.