In Cuonzo Martin’s first year as the head coach of the Missouri Tigers, he landed one of the nation’s top recruits in forward Michael Porter Jr.
Two minutes and two points into the season, though, Porter injured his back and hasn’t stepped foot on the court since. Obviously, that was a devastating loss for the Tigers, but Martin’s team has actually banded together to turn in a nice season so far.
ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has the Tigers ranked as a No. 7 seed, even after Saturday’s loss at LSU. So, while they may be in solid standing for now, they can’t afford too big of a slide down the stretch if they want to make the field of 68.
So, that begs the question — would it be good or bad for Porter to return? That’s a question that needs to be looked at both from the Tigers’ perspective and Porter’s point of view.
That said, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a potential return from the star freshman forward:
Many analysts have said they think it could hurt Mizzou’s chemistry if Porter returns to the court, but that seems silly. If the Cleveland Cavaliers went 18-9 without LeBron James for a 27-game stretch, do you really think they’d keep him sitting if he was healthy?
If Porter is healthy, he should play. His brother, Jontay, would love to share the court with him before MPJ heads off to the NBA, and Martin is a talented enough coach that he’d figure out how to adjust the rotation accordingly.
With how much foul trouble Jontay and fellow big man Jeremiah Tilmon get in sometimes, the Tigers could use all the help they can get in the post. Having another body, especially one as talented as MPJ, would only help the Tigers down the stretch.
Another pro, assuming MPJ is fully healthy, is that it will give NBA scouts another look at him. He’s still likely going to be an early pick in the NBA Draft, but as other players put more highlights on film, he’s only going to fall down draft boards.
Should he make a return and help the Tigers go on an SEC Tournament run, it’ll only help solidify his standing with NBA squads.
If Porter comes back too soon and his back isn’t fully healed, he could torpedo his draft stock. It’s always easy to say a kid should play through the pain when it isn’t your money on the line, and Porter has millions of dollars at stake.
Right now, he’s a likely top-five pick and a lock to be a top-10 pick, so it would be foolish of him to risk another injury if he’s not 100-percent ready for action. As a competitor, he’s going to want to play, but it’ll be important for him to listen to his doctors before deciding one way or another.
Then, there’s the question of what happens if he looks sluggish upon his return. NBA scouts will be watching closely should he come back, so he’ll need to make sure he doesn’t do anything that might put his future in jeopardy.
Porter will meet with doctors on Thursday in Dallas, according to the latest information provided by Martin. From there, we’ll have a better timeline on his recovery and return to the court.
If he gets cleared and doctors tell him there’s no reason he can’t return, he would be wise to do so. NBA scouts will love seeing that sort of competitiveness out of him, as many of his peers wouldn’t make the same decision when faced with a similar situation.
Everything hinges on Thursday’s doctor visit, but if he gets good news, there’s no reason for him not to finish the year on the court for the Tigers.
Source: Saturday Down South