University of Missouri

Why Jontay Porter should stay in the NBA Draft, and why he should return to Mizzou

Jontay Porter’s NBA Draft stock fell after he re-tore a knee ligament in March.
Jontay Porter’s NBA Draft stock fell after he re-tore a knee ligament in March. The Kansas City Star

So Jontay is maybe going pro. On Thursday, the Missouri freshman forward made the long-expected announcement that he will enter the NBA Draft but not hire an agent. The move allows the 6-foot-11 18-year-old to assess his professional stock and still return to Mizzou.

He will need to decide whether to come back to school by May 30. That is 10 days after the end of the NBA Draft combine, and it is the NCAA’s deadline for players to withdraw from the draft and maintain eligibility.

Porter will spend the days between now and then working out for teams, both privately and at the combine. If he senses that he could be a late first-round pick, that might be enough of an incentive to keep him in the draft.

For now, here's a look at some reasons Porter should go pro now and some reasons he should play his sophomore season at Mizzou.

Why go pro now?

Start making money. This is the most obvious reason. As soon as Porter signs his rookie contract, he will be closer to signing his second NBA contract, which is almost always more lucrative than the first one. Only first-round picks receive contracts guaranteed for at least two years, though, which could make this a complicated situation for Porter. Most mock drafts have him on the edge of the first round.

Land with a successful team. If Porter does go late in the first round, he is more likely to end up with a franchise that already has an established roster, and there would be little pressure for a raw prospect like him to contribute next season, or even the season after that.

Capitalize on his youth. If Porter stays in the 2018 NBA Draft, he would be one of the youngest — if not the youngest — available prospects. Porter’s age makes his flaws more palatable. If he waits another year, he will still be just 19, but that is the same age as many other one-and-done prospects ... so maybe Porter would lose a bit of the present intrigue he holds as an NBA prospect.

Why stay in college?

Star for Missouri. If Porter returns, he will be the Tigers’ best player, and his passing ability makes him an option through which Mizzou can run its offense. Taking on more responsibility would improve Porter’s game, too. Mizzou would need him to make shots to win, and unlike during his freshman season, he could not fade from games when facing powerful opponents in the post or when shots aren’t falling. Of course, if Porter struggled as a more featured player, he could hurt his draft stock.

Earn more collegiate accolades. Porter graduated from high school a year early to join his older brother at MU. That means he didn’t have the opportunity to play in any high school All-American games or receive the individual honors that were likely headed his way. Porter should be an All-SEC player next season if he stays at Missouri. He could be a candidate for the conference’s player of the year award. It’s unclear how much these things matter to him, though, and he already spent his freshman year proving he could make an impression without playing alongside his older brother.

Be part of a thinner draft class. The 2019 NBA Draft class is supposed to be far weaker than the 2018 class. ESPN’s DraftExpress currently lists Porter as the No. 11 pick in its 2019 mock draft.