Going into this year’s NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers are in a different place. They’re not picking in the top ten for the first time in five seasons. Their first pick is in the low 20s (a spot that hasn’t always been fruitful for Philly). The Sixers have had three low-to-mid 20s picks (Luwawu-Cabarrot, Korkmaz, and Shamet last year) and have whiffed on two out of three.
The options this year vary. Tyler Monahan did a scouting profile on UNC sharpshooter Cameron Johnson. I did a breakdown on Daniel Gafford last week, and Tyler Herro (the young three point shooter from the University of Kentucky) is another possibility. All of these players could be available when the Sixers pick at 24, but if they’re not, the Sixers have an interesting question to answer: go with need, potential, or best player available?
If the Sixers want to go with potential with the 24th pick — which could be a weird choice given their pivot to “win now” mode — maybe Missouri Tigers big man Jontay Porter could be the pick.
Jontay Porter, F, University of Missouri
6’9”, 230 lbs.
Jontay Porter is the younger of the Porter brothers. Michael Porter, Jr. was drafted #14 by the Denver Nuggets in last year’s draft despite one year at Missouri that was cut short by microdiscectomy surgery of his L3-L4 spinal discs in 2017. The Porter brothers both suffered from injury bugs.
Last October, Jontay Porter tore his ACL and MCL in a scrimmage. Five months later, Porter re-tore that ACL during his rehab. Did he disobey his doctor’s orders and tried to rush back too soon as is stated in The Ringer’s NBA Draft Guide? Perhaps. I tried to do a Google search of that quote but couldn’t find anything. Either way, you can view it as Porter wanting to hurry back and help his team for a tournament run, or you can chalk it up to “kids being stupid when it comes to health” if he disobeyed orders.
Before that year from hell, Porter was ranked as high as the 11th overall prospect in the nation. There were good reasons for that. When Michael Porter, Jr. went down in his freshman year, Jontay became more involved in the offense and scored 9.9 PPG in 24.5 MPG shooting 43.7% on FGs and 36.4% from three. Based on his ability to shoot, Jontay Porter could be a nice stretch-4 in situations where Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons is the other front court member.
The numbers from Synergy Sports that are used are from the 2017-2018 season due to Porter not playing a minute for the Tigers in 2018-2019, but there’s a decent amount of offensive potential here.
Let’s start with the pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop potential.
When he started for the Tigers, 18% of Jontay’s offense came off picks where he was the roll man. In those possessions, the majority was pick-and-pop. Porter averaged 1.054 PPP (points per possession) in pick-and-pop possessions putting him in the 72nd percentile with an aFG% (adjusted field goal percentage) of 54.1. It’s important to use Jontay’s aFG% because he shoots three pointers at a near 37% clip, and aFG% calculates the fact that a three pointer is worth more.
Jontay’s performance against Vanderbilt in February of 2018 (yeah, I know … February of 2018!) was a great example of his offensive potential as he scored 24 points and hit four three pointers against the Commodores.
Season-high 24 PTS for #Mizzou's 18 year old freshman big man Jontay Porter, who went 9/10 on FG's + 4/4 on 3FG's in a 74-66 #Tigers win over #Vanderbilt— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) March 1, 2018
Jontay, Michael's younger brother, could be a Lottery pick in the 2019 #nbadraft >> https://t.co/LitgDLYsdn pic.twitter.com/43ERD26Kgr
Porter is an excellent catch and shooter (1.163 PPP/74-th percentile/58.2 aFG%). That’s pretty useful if you consider him being on the floor with Embiid or Simmons passing out double teams in the post. The Sixers were 8th in the league in catch-and-shoots this past year according to Synergy, and that’s with JJ Redick (1.053 PPP), Tobias Harris (1.114 PPP), and Mike Scott (1.167 PPP) on the team.
There’s no such thing as having too many shooters — just ask the Golden State Warriors. More shooters are good. Give Joel and Ben space to operate.
Porter is decent at post-ups (0.899 PPP), but with Embiid theoretically in the paint already, Porter’s talents could be utilized elsewhere on the floor.
The younger Porter is a solid defender in the film available. His rotations aren’t terrible, so just being in the right place at the right time helps. There’s not much to go on statistically. Sure, he has a DRtg of 93.5 and a DBPM of +7.5, but how much of that is Porter going up against the scrub second units? His rebounding stats don’t wow anyone either (16.0 TRB – total rebound percentage – and 6.8 RPG), but given how he was used primarily as a pick-and-popper/catch-and-shooter, that makes sense.
The reasons to NOT draft Porter are solid, and I won’t argue them too hard. He’s only played a year of college ball. He tore his MCL once and his ACL twice. Is drafting a project the right idea for a team that’s trying to win now?
Here’s how I would counter that. The Denver Nuggets did the same thing last year. The Nuggets drafted Michael Porter, Jr. last year with their mid-first round pick knowing they were in “win now” mode. Porter is recovering from back surgery, and when he returns, he could drastically change the Nuggets bench if not crack the starting lineup. (Michael Porter, Jr. was the #2 prospect in the country and a possible #1 overall pick before the initial back surgery. That potential might pan out.)
Porter’s shooting can be an asset, and let’s not forget he is a baby. He’ll be just turning 20 when the NBA season starts in October. We’ve been through the “drafting injured players and sitting them” thing before. We’re used to it, here. Porter’s potential as a stretch-4 is high, so he might be worth it with the 24th pick.
Maybe the Sixers get REALLY lucky and can snag him with one of their early second round picks (#33 or #34). If Jontay Porter does get drafted to the Sixers, I wouldn’t be mad at it.