For once, more eyes might be on Jontay Porter than his older brother Michael at this week’s NBA Draft combine, which started on Wednesday with team interviews.
Because Michael Porter Jr. is a consensus top-10 pick, he is unlikely to participate in a majority of the drills at the combine in order to preserve his draft stock. Jontay Porter, who declared for the draft without signing with an agent, will do as much as he can to sell teams on his pro potential.
It remains to be seen what combine events Porter Jr. participates in, but he will have questions to answer. The interview process is a way for teams to validate what they have heard about a prospect.
Porter Jr.’s decision to undergo back surgery and postseason return for Missouri, as well as his ability to be the face of a franchise and be away from his family have been topics of interest for teams, sources have told The Star.
Jontay Porter told The Star on Wednesday that he had interviews lined up with about 10 teams. Porter, who doesn't turn 19 until November, goes into the combine as one of the youngest players in the draft, which gives him the ability to sell teams on his potential and ability to be molded into what they want. But after skipping his senior year of high school, scouts are concerned about his fitness and limited athleticism.
He announced the decision to reclassify in August and missed the entire summer conditioning program with Tigers strength coach Nicodemus Christopher.
“He’s definitely skilled,” an NBA scout told The Star. “I think he’s got to show us a little bit more. I think the motor will be an important part of that. Can he get up and down the floor? Can he show energy consistently? If he struggles, how will he react?”
Scouts aren’t allowed to publicly comment on the players they evaluate. A different scout told The Star that out of all the players to declare without hiring an agent, the consensus is that Jontay Porter is considered the most likely to stay in the draft.
Aside from his age, the 5-on-5 competition might be Porter’s best chance at raising his stock. At his best, the 6-foot-11 freshman has the ability to play like Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green — a stat-sheet stuffer who serves as a Swiss Army knife for a team. But Porter was able to show that off at Missouri partly because he knew the personnel so well. Will he able to do the same while playing with four new players?
“Worst-case scenario he’s a pick-and-pop four-man,” a scout said. “How well he defends guys at the higher level, how well he rebounds and plays hard, a lot of that will determine what people think.”
Porter has shown his ability to thrive off the pick-and-roll, after he torched Vanderbilt for 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists, with a lot of his points coming off pick-and-roll mismatches.
Now he’ll have to show he can do that and more, at a much higher level.