Sacramento Kings

Three things to know about Kings draft prospect Michael Porter Jr.

Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. practices before a game against Arkansas on March 3. Back surgery limited Porter to just three collegiate games, but he could selected by the Kings at No. 2 in Thursday's NBA draft.
Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. practices before a game against Arkansas on March 3. Back surgery limited Porter to just three collegiate games, but he could selected by the Kings at No. 2 in Thursday's NBA draft. The Associated Press

"I'm still the best player in this draft."

"I'm a mix of Giannis and K.D."

He's Michael Porter Jr., and, as his comments in the lead-up to Thursday's NBA draft suggest, he's not shy on confidence. The Kings have the second overall pick and have been linked by some to the 6-foot-11 small forward from Missouri. But skepticism remains over the health of his back.

Due to a lower back injury in the season opener against Iowa State, Porter was forced to undergo microdiscectomy surgery of the L3-L4 spinal discs. He would return in early March during the Southeastern Conference tournament in a defeat against Georgia, and would play one more game: in a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Florida State.

If Porter can play up to expectations, the Kings may have a chance to draft a player who will be a prized possession for years to come.

Here are three things to know about the possible No. 2 draft pick:

Missouri Tigers, or Porter family and company?

The Missouri Tigers not only had Michael Porter Jr. on their roster, but also younger brother Jontay.

Jontay Porter, also a 6-11 forward, played in 33 games, averaging 9.9 points and 6.8 rebounds, and recently told reporters that if he had declared for the draft this year, "I’m pretty confident I would have been a first-round pick."

"That really wouldn’t have been a question," he said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Whether I was top 10 or top 30, I was pretty set on coming back (to Missouri).”

Jontay graduated from high school early in 2017, according to the Kansas City Star, foregoing his senior season after winning the Washington Class 3A State Championship with Michael at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, Wash., where they were coached by former NBA All-Star Brandon Roy.

At Missouri, they had their father, Michael Porter Sr., as an assistant coach. He was hired by the Tigers prior to the 2017-18 season, after holding an assistant coaching position at Washington the previous season.

Porter originally committed to play for the Huskies under Lorenzo Romar in mid-July 2016 but decommitted after Romar was fired in March 2017, according to USA Today High School Sports.

Three college games played (yes, just three)

If selected No. 2 overall, Michael Porter Jr. would make history by having the least amount of college games played as a top-two pick in the NBA draft.

Currently, All-Star Kyrie Irving holds that astonishing record, having only played 11 games for Duke during the 2010-11 season.

Porter averaged 10.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in three games at Missouri.

But he had already rocketed onto the radar after leading Nathan Hale to a 29-0 record in route to a state title, and he was named Mr. Basketball USA and MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game in 2017.

Porter will join Jordan Clarkson and DeMarre Carroll as the only former Missouri players in the NBA, according to the Kansas City Star.

Class of 2018 already making changes

Porter joins fellow draft prospects Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III and Zhaire Smith as the few who will represent the Puma brand on the NBA stage for years to come.

Porter signed a multi-year shoe deal with the company, according to ESPN's Nick DePaula, who in a tweet labeled the company’s recent signees as “one of the most aggressive pushes the industry has seen.”

Porter’s signing comes just one day after rapper Jay-Z was named Puma's creative director, according to ESPN.

The brand's signing of Bagley on June 17 marked its first contract with an NBA player since Vince Carter in 1998, according to The Athletic.

Freshman Michael Porter Jr. and his Missouri Tigers men's basketball teammates went through drills Thursday at Mizzou Arena. The portion of practice was made public to reporters.

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