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Michael Porter Jr. Is Expected To Return Today - Just Who Is He?

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Michael Porter Jr. is expected to make his anticipated return to college basketball today. I actually use that term loosely considering he played just two minutes before missing the entire regular season with a back injury that resulted in surgery. So, just who is this guy and what is expected to bring to a Missouri team that should be in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens this week?

Porter was the No. 2 recruit from the Class of 2017 and expected to be a an All-American candidate this year. The question of was he going to play asked because of two different situations. 1) NBA Draft stock. To me there’s plenty video out there for scouts, they’ve seen him person plenty of times and he was always going to be a top-5 pick as long as NBA doctors cleared his back. 2) Porter is a different cat. It’s been talked about quite a bit, but he has a close relationship with Lorenzo Romar. His dad is on staff. His brother reclassified to play with him. The Porter name is pretty legendary at Missouri. It means a lot for him just on a personal level to suit and play.

So who exactly is he as a player? Well, he’s exactly what you want in modern day basketball. He’s 6’10” with a 7’0″ wingspan. He’s an excellent ballhandler, whether you’re talking about a combo forward or not. The dude can simply handle the ball. Throw in the fact he has good athleticism and can score at all three levels and all three different ways. Whether it’s off the bounce or catch and shoot or a lob, he’s comfortable with all three.

As for Missouri. This is a team that is fairly balanced ranking 49th in AdjO and 45th in AdjD. They do like to get up a ton of threes as they rank 26th in the country in 3PA/FGA. They do have good bigs in Jontay Porter and Jeremiah Tilmon. The one problem for the bigs is Tilmon can’t seem to stay out of foul trouble. This is where Porter can come in and provide some roster versatility. You preferably play him at the four, but he can slide over to the three if you want to go big. The fact that both Porter’s can step out and shoot, means that you can still run a 4-out, 1-in offense with Tilmon in the post.

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Porter defensively is okay, but there are some problems. He typically does a good job of bothering smaller guys, which is why you can put him at the three. However, he isn’t always the best in rotations and can be a step slow against a quicker guy where he relies on his size to make up for that step. That’s fine, unless the game is being called tight. He is strong enough to typically guard other bigs but the question is can he bang down low with the bad back?

It’s never easy to implement a player this late in the season, especially one that is as talented as Porter. Right now Missouri is doing an excellent job of getting others open. They are assisting on 56.5 of all made field goals. Porter is an okay passer, as he averaged 3+ per-40 in the EYBL circuit. But, he’s a scorer first. Does that disrupt any sort of the offense?

What I’m most interested in is to see how much he plays. A couple weeks ago, Martin said Porter isn’t a guy you want to come back and just play 10 minutes. You hope he plays 25-30. The other day Martin said sort of the opposite where it sounds like Porter will be eased back into the rotation. That said, if you can still get 10 minutes from a top-5 pick that feels like a huge win. Missouri plays today against Georgia. That game will be incredibly physical and at a slower pace.