The Trail Blazers’ memorable postseason run might be over, but the the 2019 NBA Draft is right around the corner. Portland’s President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey currently has the No. 25 pick in the draft at his disposal and he will look to supplement the Blazers’ roster with a talented prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Regardless of Portland’s lack of a pick in the second round, Olshey has shown a willingness to negotiate his way back into the selection process. Today we look at Jontay Porter of Missouri.
- Height: 6’11”
- Weight: 240
- Wingspan: 7’0”
- Shooting Hand: Left
- Position: PF/C
- Age: 19
- Projected draft range: 42-60
- PTS: 9.9 | Per 40: 16.1
- REB: 6.8 | Per 40: 11.1
- AST: 2.2 | Per 40: 3.7
- BLK: 1.7 | Per 40: 2.7
- FG%: 43.7
- 3P%: 36.4
- FT%: 75.0
Jontay Porter blends the playing styles of modern and old-fashioned big men. Three-pointers accounted for nearly half of his shot attempts as a freshman at Missouri, and he converted 36.4 percent of those outside looks. His range made him a successful pick-and-pop option. He can also score with his back to the basket. In that position, Porter relied on hook shots and floaters to exploit mismatches. When opponents adjusted and doubled him in the post, he consistently found open teammate from the block. The Missouri big man can handle the ball well for his size and allowed shooters to run off the ball and receive passes from him in openings along the perimeter.
Porter doesn’t have the size or verticality to compete with NBA-level centers. He also lacks the speed and lateral quickness to defend in small-ball lineups. While his game fits the contemporary transformation to floor-spacing big men, his build rests in a purgatory between the four and five position. On one end, Porter’s limited post game that primarily exploits smaller opponents won’t be as effective at the next level. On the other, opposing teams will abuse the pick and roll to force him to defend in space. Porter was also foul and turnover prone his freshman season; he averaged 1.9 turnovers and 2.9 fouls in 24.5 minutes per game.
Injuries plagued Porter, much like his older brother. He missed the entire 2018-19 season after tearing his ACL and MCL in an October scrimmage, and to add salt in the wound, he re-tore the same ACL in March. So, despite two years at Missouri, Porter only participated in his freshman campaign. In those 33 games, he struggled to score consistently. Porter tallied fewer than six points on 10 different occasions during his stint with the Tigers. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, he only recorded two points on 1-7 shooting as Missouri lost to Florida State. On the positive side, Porter won the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year award and made the All-SEC Freshman team.
Porter will mesh with any offense that utilizes its big man as another floor spacer. His playmaking from the post and ball handling should appeal to teams as well. However, the predictability of his game, both on the perimeter and with his back to the basket, could lead to traditional post players stifling all of his options easily. Opponents will hunt pick-and-roll switches that end with Porter defending in space against a guard. With improved mobility and verticality, his smooth shooting from anywhere on the floor might outweigh his liability on perimeter defense. Given his injury history and current lack of lateral quickness, that feels like a stretch.
Until Jusuf Nurkic recovers from his injury, the Blazers will likely utilize a frontcourt of Zach Collins, Skal Labissiere and Meyers Leonard—a fairly young and inexperienced crew. If Olshey looks to bolster this rotation for cheap, there are better options both at No. 25 and in the second round. Porter’s injury concerns from repeated ACL injuries within a year of each other doesn’t bode well for his future. He would be an effective pick-and-pop guy for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but he ultimately doesn’t provide anything new to the roster. Leonard spaces the floor and Collins defends the paint, leaving just Porter’s playmaking as a unique skill among the team’s big men.
Do you want to see Porter in a Blazers jersey next season? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.