A perennial playoff team in the Western Conference for the last four years, the Grizzlies proved last year that even with Dave Joerger replacing Lionel Hollins they’re still a formidable team capable of competing with anyone in the West. While their aging core has another year of mileage on their legs, they’ve revamped their bench and appear to be headed for a fifth-consecutive postseason appearance.
Basketball Insiders previews the 2014-15 Memphis Grizzlies.
Five Guys Think
While the Grizzlies aren’t the exciting upstart team they once were, they’re still a perennial 50-game winner that should, by all estimations, get pretty close that mark again this year. All of the key players are back for another go-round, but they’ve added Vince Carter and talented rookies Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes to the roster. They have continuity, playoff experience and a talented coach in the recently-extended Dave Joerger. All that, added to the talents of guys like Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley make for a pretty good team, which Memphis should be once again this season.
4th Place – Southwest Division
– Joel Brigham
After Dave Joerger’s unexpected flirtation with the Minnesota Timberwolves and then his unexpected return to Memphis, anything is possible out in Tennessee, apparently. While the Grizzlies are certainly a team worthy of our respect, they did not do enough this past offseason for us to reasonably expect anything more than what we have gotten from them already. The argument can be made that Mike Conley is the most underrated point guard in the entire league, but unless he suddenly morphs into Chris Paul, there is little reason to believe that the Grizzlies will be anything better than the third or fourth-best team in their own division, especially considering the improvements that the Dallas Mavericks have made. Securing Zach Randolph on a two-year, $20 million extension is a great value and if Vince Carter can give the Grizzlies anything close to what he provided the Mavericks last season, he will certainly be an asset. Still, after a somewhat uneventful summer in which they failed to make a splash, being leapfrogged in the division by the Pelicans isn’t completely out of the question, even if I am not necessarily betting on that.
3rd place – Southwest Division
– Moke Hamilton
Quietly, the Memphis Grizzlies have become one of the most successful franchises in the league over the past four seasons. But because the team plays outside the glare of mainstream media attention, it’s easy to take Memphis’ success for granted. Forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol anchor one of the best frontcourts in the game today, while guards Mike Conley and Tony Allen remain an underrated tandem who hold their own versus their matchups on a nightly basis. The Southwest Division is going to be tough to navigate so Memphis may slip a bit in the standings. But come playoff time, the Grizzlies will be in the mix – as usual.
4th Place – Southwest Division
– Lang Greene
This was a nice summer for the Grizzlies, re-signing Zach Randolph and adding talented players like Vince Carter, Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes among others. Memphis should be better than last year for a few reasons. Marc Gasol missed time last season and he’s extremely important for the Grizzlies. Now, he is healthy and looked good in the FIBA World Cup. Also, the Grizzlies will be more comfortable playing for head coach Dave Joerger since they have a year of experience under him. Carter should help the Grizzlies’ offense if he plays as well as he did last year with the Dallas Mavericks, giving Memphis some points off of the bench. I like what Memphis did this offseason and they could be back in contention this season.
2nd Place – Southwest Division
– Alex Kennedy
What I would have done to be a fly on the wall in the Grizzlies’ front office this summer. It seems like the inner turmoil there is juicy and entertaining; unfortunately, we may never know the true extent of it. Somehow, through all the turnover, fighting and uncertainty, though, they managed to put together a pretty nice offseason. The starting five there is as proven, tough and physical as any in the league. And now, with the additions they made in free agency and with a really solid draft, their depth is much improved. This is the kind of team that is difficult to pick against, because they know how to play together and believe that they can compete with anyone in the league. Their division is absolutely loaded, but nobody ranked ahead of them is going to be excited to see them in the playoffs.
4th Place – Southwest Division
– Yannis Koutroupis
Top Of The List
Top Offensive Player: The Grizzlies were one of the elite defensive teams in the NBA last year, holding teams to only 94.6 points per game (third-best in the NBA), but one of their major weaknesses was generating points. One of the players the Grizzles can fully count on to score is veteran forward Zach Randolph. Throughout the course of his 13-year career, Randolph has consistently put up 20 and 10, and he held close to that mark last year by averaging 17.4 points and 10 rebounds. Randolph is the go-to player for the Grizzlies when in search of points thanks to his variety of post moves and great ability to draw fouls. Randolph has also steadily improved his mid-range jump shot. This is key to stretching defenses and giving his teammate Marc Gasol space to operate in the post. An expert at establishing great post position, Randolph also relies on strong box-out position to track down his own misses and capitalize on second-chance points. Head coach Dave Joerger has made a point to try and pick up the offensive pace and improve their three-point shooting. The Grizzlies ranked dead last in the NBA last year at only 89.9 possessions per 48 minutes. However, it can be assured the Grizzlies will still heavily depend on Randolph to score if shots are not falling.
Top Defensive Player: Spearheading the Grizzlies’ tremendous defensive approach is guard Tony Allen. While Allen was finally unseated from the All-Defensive teams last year at the age of 32 after three straight appearances, he is still considered one of the premier perimeter defenders in the NBA. Going head-to-head with the opponent’s best offensive player, Allen is unafraid of any match up and routinely limits even the best players in the NBA as last year’s postseason match up against Thunder forward Kevin Durant showed. Allen pressured Durant constantly in the series, even holding the NBA scoring champion to just 15 points in Game 4 and never allowing him to be completely comfortable until the deciding Game 7. Allen is also the leader on defense; not only does he take on the best opposing player, but he plays great help defense and has an eye for picking off passing lanes as he averaged 1.6 steals per game last season. Allen will be depended on as a mentor and to teach the Grizzlies’ defensive philosophy to the younger players.
Top Playmaker: Point guard Mike Conley is the unquestioned leader and quarterback of the Grizzlies’ offense. While never being named to an All-Star game in the crowded Western Conference, Conley is considered one of the best and unheralded point guards in the NBA. Conley has always had elite speed, but now he has expert decision-making as well, which helps him effectively run Memphis’ offense. Conley has been excellent at running Joerger’s post-oriented offense, hitting the open man and feeding the hot hand on the floor as he averaged a solid six assists per game last season. Conley will again be counted on to direct his teammates and deliver effective offensive possessions either by creating plays with his speed or running the offense off the post for open shots.
Top Clutch Player: Not only does Conley keep his teammates involved, he has also increased his scoring nearly every year of his seven-year career, including his career-high 17.2 points per game last year. As his scoring increase last year shows, Conley has also grown into a go-to scorer in the clutch with the confidence to look for his own shot if needed. While criticized for not having a consistent jump shot when he entered the league, Conley can now spread the defense with his three-point shot, as he shot 36 percent on four attempts per game last season. Conley displayed his clutch abilities many times last year, either hitting a last-second shot or securing a late steal or layup to lock up a close game. The Grizzlies’ late-game execution will still rest on Conley’s shoulders next year as his offensive production is expected to increase once again.
The Unheralded Player: One of the more under-the-radar trades of last season was the Grizzlies deciding to ship guard Jerryd Bayless to the Boston Celtics for guard Courtney Lee. While Bayless provided an offensive spark off the bench, Lee added more balance to the starting unit with his defensive ability and all-around offensive game. Lee took advantage of his opportunity by averaging 11 points and nearly a steal per game in his half season with the Grizzlies. Lee quickly developed chemistry with guards Conley and Allen, both in their defensive focus, but also in Lee’s ability to run the offense and allow Conley to play off the ball. After a full training camp with the team, Lee should have an increased role and will be an important contributor to the offense and defense even if he’s not the most noticed player on the team.
Best New Addition: Guard Vince Carter may not be the “Vinsanity” of his past, but the 37-year-old Carter can still be a valuable offensive contributor off the bench. One of the biggest holes for the Grizzlies last year was their lack of bench scoring. As Carter showed last postseason against the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in a seven-game series, he can still bring some magic to the court with his three-point shot and an occasional vicious dunk. The Grizzlies are hoping Carter can be the Sixth Man of the Year candidate they need off the bench and a go-to scorer once the starters come off the floor.
– Kyle Cape-Lindelin
Who We Like
1. Marc Gasol: Despite the great balance of veteran talent on this roster, the Grizzlies and their fans know the team will only go as far as Gasol will carry them. In previous years, a healthy Gasol evolved the Grizzlies into one of the best teams in the NBA. Without him, they come dangerously close to missing the playoffs completely like last season when Gasol missed 23 games. With his offensive post presence, defensive shot-blocking and some of the best passing ability of any NBA center, Gasol is the key to the Grizzlies reaching elite status in the West.
2. Quincy Pondexter: Forward Quincy Pondexter was greatly missed last year after breaking a bone in his foot and only appearing in 15 games. Pondexter is a much needed three-point threat off the bench with a career three-point percentage of 36 percent. Returning to new faces added to the roster in hopes of helping bench production, Pondexter will be expected to be a contributor with not only his three-point shooting ability, but also his defensive effort off the bench.
3. Jordan Adams: The Grizzlies’ first-round pick Jordan Adams was added in an attempt to increase bench production and scoring. Adams displayed a natural talent to score the ball in both high school and his two-year career at UCLA with both his finishing ability and a nice shooting stroke. While the 20-year-old will be given time to develop on this veteran team, Adams has the ability to be a spark plug contributor for offense off the bench. Fellow rookie Jarnell Stokes should also emerge as a significant contributor, coming off of the bench behind Randolph.
4. Chris Wallace: After the surprising front office turnover by owner Robert Pera last year, Wallace has emerged at the helm with VP of Basketball Operations John Hollinger. With Pera already displaying a quick trigger for change in both the front office and on the court, Wallace will be on the look out to add players to help them win this year if opportunities arise.
5. Nick Calathes: Guard Nick Calathes finally found a place in the NBA after playing overseas and quickly established himself as the team’s back-up point guard behind Conley for the Grizzlies last year. Calathes follows Conley’s lead of running the offense and not turning the ball over. Most importantly, he brings a calming presence to the bench by not making bad decisions or forcing ill-advised shots. With younger players expected to grow into larger roles off the bench next year, Calathes will be counted on to mentor and direct the offense when the bench comes in.
– Kyle Cape-Lindelin
The Grizzlies’ strengths are well known by now – their commitment to defending, rebounding and protecting the ball. This has been a standard for the Grizzlies thanks to their veteran leadership. The Grizzlies’ defensive rating of 104.6 and opponent’s points per game of 94.6 are some of the best in the NBA, ranking seventh and third respectively. The backbone of their defensive approach is to win the rebounding battle. Thanks largely to their big men Gasol and Randolph, the team tied for third in the NBA with 52 total rebounds per game. Lastly, the Grizzlies’ slow offensive pace and limited possessions means they must put a premium on controlling the ball and not committing turnovers. The Grizzlies have done a solid job at this thanks to Conley running the show and only allowing 13.1 turnovers per game, which ranks 10th in the NBA. The Grizzlies will need to continue to rely on these strengths if they hope to compete in the talented Western Conference.
– Kyle Cape-Lindelin
While the Grizzlies’ experience is one of their strengths, the NBA is becoming increasingly more athletic and younger, which the Grizzlies are not. The team has been able to use their veteran defense to slow down young, athletic teams like the Thunder and the Clippers in the past, but it’s a major question if they can keep this up and overcome injuries. The lack of transition scoring and limited three-point shooting adds to the Grizzlies’ inability to score and may keep them from staying with the strong offensive teams in the West, even if their defense is on point. Depth has also been an issue for the Grizzlies, especially if the injury bug bites again like it did last year. The Grizzlies have taken steps to address these weaknesses this offseason, but these are still issues that could keep the Grizzlies from reaching elite status.
– Kyle Cape-Lindelin
The Salary Cap
After spending $3.9 million of their Mid-Level Exceptions, the Grizzlies locked in a hard cap at $80.6 million. The team used their $2.1 million Bi-Annual Exception to bring back Beno Udrih, and an additional $725k of their MLE on rookie Jarnell Stokes. The team now has 14 guaranteed players with $75.6 million in total salary, slightly below the $76.8 million luxury tax threshold. The Grizzlies can choose to keep one of their two camp invites Patrick Christopher and Luke Hancock without hitting the tax. Memphis also has a $3.1 million traded player exception for Jerryd Bayless, but that may go unused with the luxury tax in mind – barring a deal to simultaneously reduce salary.
– Eric Pincus
The Grizz resemble the team that scared the daylights out of Oklahoma City in the first round for the entire season. Conley continues his amazing history of improvement and finally makes his first All-Star team. Gasol reverses his decline on the boards and avoids injury, while Randolph proves his ground-bound game is more impervious to aging than the average 33-year-old. Carter, Pondexter, Lee, Allen, and even Adams give the Grizz the deepest wing rotation they have had in this era, and allows Joerger to experiment with some small lineups to spread the floor for Conley and Gasol pick-and-rolls. Tayshaun Prince doesn’t play at all.
With their solid defensive culture and Conley’s sparse injury history, the Grizzlies have one of the smaller spreads between their best and worst case. Part of that is because the lack of top-end talent on offense limits their ceiling on that end, but they also have a lot of depth in case of injuries. But in this worst case, Randolph falls off a cliff and Gasol and Conley miss some time. Randolph is relatively unathletic, but that is no guarantee he will age well. Sometimes, it can later become clear that less athletic players are barely subsisting on what limited athleticism they do have, only after they suffer a massive decline if they lose even a bit of it. In this worst-case scenario, Joerger relies too much on Prince and Allen, the latter of whom is extremely useful against wing scorers, but has somewhat limited utility aside from that. Memphis’ offense falls back into the 20s, while the defense remains good rather than elite. Last year’s relatively middling 1.2 net rating proves an unfortunate harbinger of things to come instead of a blip due to the time Gasol missed.
– Nate Duncan
The Burning Question
Can Memphis score enough to keep up in the wild West?
The Grizzlies’ defense has always been among the best in the NBA. Offense always seems to be their downfall from being a championship contending team. With the Grizzlies’ window potentially closing in the near future with Randolph and Allen getting older and Gasol approaching free agency, they will need to focus on getting easy points through transition and become a threat from three-point range this season. There is hardly any drop off in the stacked West, with younger teams only gaining more experience and adding talent. The Grizzlies are dangerously close to losing ground if they can’t score and increase their offensive output to go along with their tremendous defense and rebounding. With their young, athletic players looking to earn bigger roles, this could help the Grizzlies keep up with the other Western teams and earn a playoff spot. Once in the playoffs, the Grizzlies have as good of a chance as any to compete in a seven-game series. However, if the Grizzlies can’t overcome their own tough Southwest Division, last year’s playoff appearance may be a thing of the past.
– Kyle Cape-Lindelin
NBA Daily: Jaylen Brown Set To Return For Celtics
The Celtics finally got some good news on Thursday. Jaylen Brown’s return is imminent.
Finally, some good news for the Boston Celtics.
Jaylen Brown is set to return to action.
Brown has been M.I.A. since sustaining a concussion during the team’s 117-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves back on March 8, but has traveled with the team to Portland and is expecting to return to the lineup on Sunday when the Celtics do battle with the Sacramento Kings.
As the Celts gear up for a playoff run, which they hope will result in them ending LeBron James’ reign atop the Eastern Conference, they’ve picked the wrong time to run into injury issues. Along with Brown, both Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart have each been conspicuous by their absences, and the team could certainly use all of their pieces as they attempt to enter the postseason on a high note.
Fortunately for Boston, with the Toronto Raptors leading them by 4.5 games in the standings and the Celts ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers by a comfortable six games, Brad Stevens’ team is enjoying the rare situation of having a playoff seed that appears to be somewhat locked in.
Still, with the team only able to go as far as its young rotation will carry it, Brown addressed the media on Thursday.
“I’m feeling a lot better. I’m just trying to hurry up and get back,” Brown said, as quoted by Celtics.com.
“I’m tired of not playing.”
Stevens is probably tired of him not playing, too.
As we head into the month of April, playoff-bound teams and conference contenders begin to think about playing into June, while the cellar-dwellers and pretenders begin to look toward the draft lottery and free agency.
What’s funny is that in the midst of the Raptors and their rise out East, the Celtics and their dominance has become a bit of a forgotten storyline. When Gordon Hayward went down on opening night, the neophytes from the Northeast were thought to be a decent team in the making whose ceiling probably wasn’t anywhere near that of the Cavs, the Raptors and perhaps even the Washington Wizards.
Yet through it all, with the impressive growth of Jaylen Brown, impressive rookie Jayson Tatum and the rise of Irving as a franchise’s lynchpin, the Celtics stormed out the games to the tune of a a 17-3 record. What made the strong start even more impressive was the fact that the team won 16 straight games after beginning the season 0-2.
Although they weren’t able to keep up that pace, they began the month of February having gone 37-15 and turned a great many into believers. With their spry legs, team-first playing style and capable leader in Irving, the Celtics, it was thought, were a true contender in the Eastern Conference — if not the favorite.
Since then, and after experiencing injuries to some of its key cogs, the team has gone just 11-8.
In the interim, it seems that many have forgotten about the team that tantalized the Eastern Conference in the early goings of the season.
Brown’s return, in one important respect, will signify a return to Boston’s prior self.
With Marcus Smart having recently undergone surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right thumb, he is expected to be out another five weeks or so, meaning that he’ll likely miss the beginning of the postseason.
As for Irving, although reports say that his ailing knee has no structural damage, everything the Celtics hope to accomplish begins and ends with him. FOX Sports 1’s Chris Broussard believes that it’s no slam dunk that Irving returns to action this season, but he’s in the minority. This team has simply come too far to not give themselves every opportunity to compete at the highest level, so long as doing so doesn’t jeopardize the long term health of any of the franchise’s cornerstones.
Make no mistake about it, the Celtics are far from a finished product. With their nucleus intact and flexibility preserved, they will have another offseason with which to tinker with their rotation pieces and plug away at building a champion.
But here and now, with what they’ve got, the Celtics are much closer than any of us thought they would be at this point.
And on Sunday, when Jaylen Brown rejoins his team in the lineup, to the delight of the Boston faithful, the Celtics will be that much closer.
Winslow and the Miami HEAT Are “Believing in Each Other”
Justise Winslow discusses the all-around team effort of the Miami HEAT with Basketball Insiders.
The days of LeBron James in Miami are over. Chris Bosh isn’t there anymore, either. No more Ray Allen or Shane Battier. Dwyane Wade is back, but he’s not “Flash” nowadays.
Actually, check the entire Miami HEAT roster; there’s no superstar. They have an All-Star in Goran Dragic, even if he was the third alternate. But during this most recent playoff push, the HEAT don’t have a worldwide household name to plaster all over billboards as a reason for their success.
With 10 games remaining until the playoffs, Miami doesn’t have a player averaging more than 33 minutes per game. Instead, they have 11 players who average at least 20 minutes a contest. Their approach is that of a deep rotation, and its led them to a 39-33 record and the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. All while the rest of the league is star-driven.
One of those key cogs to the Miami machine is third-year wing, Justise Winslow. A former top-10 pick out of Duke, Winslow is enjoying most efficient season so far for the HEAT. To him, the fact that his squad isn’t littered with names like LeBron and Steph doesn’t make a difference.
“I think our team is extremely confident in each other,” Winslow said. “I think that’s a big thing is that we all believe in each other. We play to each other’s strengths, and most importantly we’re a defensive-minded team. We hang our hats on the defensive end, and that’s really what gets us going as a team.”
Winslow isn’t exaggerating. The HEAT is seventh in the NBA in defensive rating. Head coach Erik Spoelstra harps on the team’s defensive scheme and preparation. Without a go-to scorer capable of getting the team 30 any given night, Miami needs to do their job as a collective unit on the defensive end of the floor night in and night out.
“Each night the coaching staff preaching to us that we have enough, no matter who is in the lineup,” Winslow said. “So it’s just about going out there and executing and putting together a good game of 48-minute basketball. I think our belief in each other that we have enough to get the job done is key.”
In the current NBA landscape, a lot of the playoff contenders are centered around players with big resumes and bigger names. As a result, the HEAT get lost in the shuffle of the national conversation from time to time. Their culture of togetherness and slight from the media outside of their city could make for the perfect “chip on the shoulder” recipe. Or so you would think. Winslow doesn’t believe the chatter, or lack thereof, matters any to Miami.
“We don’t pay too much attention to that,” Winslow said. ‘We’re so focused, and locked in on our team, and each other, and trying to win each game. For us, it’s about having the respect of your peers, of the other team. I think every night no matter who we have or who’s healthy, I think teams know we’re going to be a tough, physical team. Guys in this league don’t want that, you don’t want to have to play against a Miami HEAT team that’s going to be physical, that’s going to get into your body, that’s going to make you play a hard, 48-minute basketball game.”
Because of the HEAT’s brand of basketball, an 82-game season can be grueling. For Winslow, keeping his body right throughout the grind is important to him. After dealing with a few injuries last season, and ultimately being shut down for the year last January to undergo right shoulder surgery for a torn labrum, Winslow was determined to make sure he kept his body in check throughout his comeback so he would be available for a long playoff run.
While his numbers aren’t flashy, Winslow is showing improvement. His 49.3 true shooting percentage is the highest of his career, along with shooting nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc, Winslow made strides in arguably the biggest knock against his game since coming out of college.
Because NBA players have the freedom to form partnerships with whichever companies they’d like, Winslow made the choice to strike up a partnership that he felt would not only help him off the court but more importantly, on it as well.
“My partnership with MET-Rx has been great,” Winslow said. “They’ve really helped take my game to the next level with all their nutritional supplements, and the Big 100 bar. So, for me, I’m always looking for ways to stay off my feet, but also get in the best shape possible and this was just a great way to help.”
The grind of the NBA season is also eased for playoff teams by a veteran presence. So, when the HEAT brought back franchise legend Wade at the trade deadline, their locker room suddenly had a face and feel of someone who’s been there before. A player who reached the pinnacle, with the very team that traded for him nonetheless.
Getting Wade back to Miami was crucial for the team’s playoff run down the stretch, and more importantly for Winslow, who benefited greatly from his time with the future Hall of Famer when he was fresh out of college.
“First and foremost, it was great to get him back,” Winslow said. “Just the role that he played in my career as a rookie, and everything I learned from him. But then also, just the energy and positivity that he brought to the locker room, and also the community of Miami, the city of Miami as a whole. It was a much-needed energy boost, and good vibes that he brought back for that post All-Star break push for playoffs. So, it’s just been great having him back, and it’s kind of rejuvenated the team and the locker room, and just the city in general.”
Wade is the MVP-caliber player he once was this time around, though. But that’s okay. This version of the Miami HEAT is charging toward the postseason with a team-first mentality.
NBA Daily: The Road Ahead for Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. is an elite prospect, but questions surrounding his back will determine his landing spot in the NBA.
The Road Ahead for Michael Porter Jr.
While some of the highly thought of college players have made their intentions on declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft known, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr still hasn’t made his proclamation. Most people in NBA circles believe he’ll be in the 2018 NBA Draft class—you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think he’s in.
Back in November, the Missouri staff was somewhat vague and guarded about Porter’s condition until it was announced that he’d have back surgery on a couple of problematic discs in the lumbar area of his spine. The procedure is called a microdiscectomy and by all accounts was a success.
Porter missed virtually all of his college season but opted to play in the post-season for Missouri, who got eliminated fairly quickly.
There were certainly a lot of ugly things about Porter’s game. He looked out of shape, and certainly wasn’t the overwhelming dominating force he’d been in high school. Some executives applauded his decision to play, even though he wasn’t at a 100 percent. Some pointed to that fact that too many college players play it safe and that’s not always viewed positively. Almost no one Basketball Insiders spoke with was holding the less than stellar outing against him. In fact, most had far more positive things to say than negative. There was one resounding theme from the NBA executives who spoke about this situation—none of it matters until they see his medical.
Assuming Porter does as expected and hires an agent and enters the draft, the next challenge he’ll face is how open he wants to be to teams looking at drafting him.
In recent years, NBA teams have not shied away from using high draft picks on injured or recently injured players. Once a team can get a sense of how the player is recovering, they can make a value judgment.
Agents often use this information and access to the player to help steer their client to the situation they deem most favorable. While fans and outsiders often get caught up in the pick number a player ultimately lands at, more and more agents are concerned with fit, especially for a player that may need time to get back to 100 percent.
Most agents would want to steer their client to a team with favorable medical staff, a team with a proven track record of patience or more importantly, a team with the best chance at a long and fruitful career.
This won’t be good news for some team that could end up in the top 10, as it’s more likely that Porter isn’t made available to everyone. NBA executives will tell you, they can certainly draft him if they wanted to, but most teams won’t draft a player if their medical staff doesn’t sign off, and without information and access how can they do that?
There is a significant financial difference in going third in the draft ($5.47 million) and 10th ($2.964 million) – but several agents commented that the short-term money shouldn’t drive the long-term decision, especially if the player isn’t 100 percent. The fit and situation typically trump everything in these situations.
Another concept to consider is while Porter did play, there are questions about whether he’ll host a pro-day, take part in private team workouts or simply let his body of work drive his draft value.
Almost no one who spoke about this situation believed Porter would take part in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, as he’d have to subject himself to the medical testing that’s part of that event.
The common perception on Porter is he’s a top-five talent, although it seems more likely that his camp is going to try and work the process to ensure he lands in a favorable situation. That could mean he falls out of top-five selections, simply because he and his agents choose to.
There is still a lot that needs to play out for Porter, including his announcement that he will enter the draft. But given where things stand with him, it’s more likely than not he’s coming into the draft, and it’s more likely than not he’ll have a lot of questions NBA teams will want to understand before his real draft position is clear.
The NBA Draft Lottery will be held in Chicago this year and is scheduled for May 15th. The annual Draft Combine, also in Chicago, gets underway on May 16th.
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