Michael Porter Jr. famously landed with the Nuggets at 14th overall in the 2018 NBA draft after a large slide due to medical concerns about his back and hip. Porter missed all but three games during his one-year career at Missouri due to back surgery, and hip spasms caused him to miss a pro day workout.
The talent of Porter, one of the top high school recruits in the country the previous summer, was never in doubt, but teams apparently didn’t think the risk was worth the reward. One of those teams was the Clippers, who held the 12th and 13th overall picks and passed on Porter twice.
Memories of being passed on in the draft are usually fuel enough for players, but then Porter implied that he believes it was the Clippers who were responsible for his draft slide.
Michael Porter Jr.: Clippers thought ‘I would never play basketball again’
When talking to reporters on Wednesday, Porter was asked if he thought the Clippers might take him on draft night. Porter answered firmly in the negative:
"No, their doctor was the one that wrote the report on me. I think he wrote some stuff like he thought that I would never play basketball again so I didn't think they'd pick me. ... I didn’t expect them to pick, but, I mean, it's going to be fun to play against them, for sure.”
That line about the medical report on Porter might refer to the pre-draft report that apparently put a scare in a lot of teams. Here’s what ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski had to say before the draft:
“There’s a lot of concern among teams in the lottery about a medical report they saw earlier this week that gave them pause about the long-term viability of [Porter’s] back, that caused him to miss most of that freshman season at Missouri.”
Despite the Clippers’ worries, Porter would actually play basketball again, but his NBA debut came more than a year after he was drafted. Porter missed the entire 2018-19 season, but has since shown significant promise in his rookie year, especially in the bubble.
In eight seeding games, Porter averaged 22.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game on 55.1% shooting. In the Nuggets’ first-round series against the Utah Jazz, he averaged 12 points and seven rebounds per game. Now facing the team that declined him twice, Porter has a chance at setting the narrative around his slide firmly in his favor.
As for the two picks the Clippers didn’t use on Porter, those ended up turning into Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Boston College guard Jerome Robinson. Both players have since been traded away for starters on this year’s title contender, Gilgeous-Alexander in the blockbuster deal to land Paul George and Robinson in the deal for Marcus Morris.
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