Michael Porter Jr. slipping to second in the 2018 NBA draft?
A year ago that might have been a laughable statement. Many considered Porter the best high school player in the country and a lock to be the first overall pick – before back surgery cost him most of his freshman season at Missouri.
Now he's out to prove to NBA teams, such as the Kings, who pick second in next month's draft, that he is still the best talent available.
The 6-foot-10 forward, who describes himself as a "versatile" and "positionless" player most comfortable on the perimeter, said he was scheduled to meet with the Kings on Friday.
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"They're all great players, but I'm the best player in this draft," Porter said at the NBA draft combine on Thursday when asked about where he fit among the best prospects. "And I just can't wait to show what I'm capable of."
The Kings seem to need a small forward every year in the draft, and this year is no different. Porter could provide them with two things they lack: size on the perimeter and a go-to offensive wing.
But most draft pundits have the Kings selecting Slovenian wing player Luka Doncic in the first round – with general manager Vlade Divac's European background tipping the scales in favor of the 19-year-old.
Doncic made headlines Thursday during a news conference prior to next week's EuroLeague Final Four in Serbia.
When asked by a reporter if these would be his final two games in the EuroLeague, the 19-year-old star gave an answer that some viewed as casting doubt on whether he would play in the NBA next season. To others, it was an innocuous comment dripping in expected cliché.
"I'm not sure if these are the last two games," Doncic said. "We are yet to make this decision. Perhaps after season."
The Kings cannot afford to overlook anyone with their highest draft pick since selecting Pervis Ellison first overall in 1989. So they'll study Porter even more closely heading into the draft.
Sacramento used last year's 15th overall pick on small forward Justin Jackson, but the Kings mostly had to rely on undersize options on the wing such as Garrett Temple and Bogdan Bogdanovic, who at 6-6 would give up 3 to 4 inches on many occasions.
Jackson struggled with his shot much of his rookie season, but even if he hadn't, Porter would be an intriguing prospect.
He only appeared in three games for Missouri, two after surgery. He averaged 10.0 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Porter said his back had been a problem for a couple of years after a fall in high school, reminding that he became the top prep player in the country while not always feeling his best. But for the first time in a long time, he is pain free, he said.
"I've got a little chip on my shoulder, something to prove," Porter said. "But I use it as motivation. I don't have any jealousy towards anybody. Those are all my guys, so I'm happy for them. Wherever they get drafted, I hope it works out for them. But I just feel motivated to be the best."
Porter is confident once teams see he is healthy, there will be no doubt he is still among the elite prospects available.
Porter, however, isn't obsessed with being selected first in the draft, where many assumed he'd go a year ago.
"I don't need to go No. 1," Porter said. "I don't, like, have the ego that makes me want to go Number 1. I just want to end up in the right situation for me. Look at Donovan Mitchell (the Rookie of the Year finalist who was drafted 13th overall by the Utah Jazz)."