Sam Amick of USA Today tweeted a bombshell Thursday morning,
There’s a very real chance the Kings would take Michael Porter Jr. at No. 2, but it’s unclear how the canceling of the Friday workout in Chicago might impact the process. They want more intel on medical and another look. Teams are being told that the workout will be rescheduled.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 14, 2018
Before you chalk this up to national media hype, keep in mind that Amick is a former beat writer covering the Kings, and he is very well connected in Sacramento. That doesn’t mean a source isn’t leveraging him to affect trade talks, but he’s not a fly-by-night speculator.
And his tweet led to a host of rumors that the Kings made a verbal commitment to draft Porter at #2.
Vlade Divac is nuts if he thinks he won’t get roasted for selecting MPJ with the 2nd pick in the draft. Does that mean he wouldn’t do it? I’m guessing not. After trading DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans for Buddy Hield, it appears Divac is impervious to national criticism.
“Former Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. canceled his second pro day in Chicago on Friday because of a strained hip, sources told ESPN. Porter couldn’t get out of bed because of muscle spasms, according to the sources.”
Despite the setback, teams are encouraged to bring their own doctors to the make-up workout to see for themselves that he’s fit to play.
“Everyone is worried about missing out on a star,” one NBA executive told ESPN. “No one wants to miss out on another Joel Embiid.”
Losing Porter Jr. to Sacramento would, of course, severely harsh my buzz for the upcoming NBA season. So I’m breathing deeply, focusing on happy thoughts, and rethinking how this draft might go down for the Dallas Mavericks.
Assuming Michael Porter Jr. goes to Sacramento at #2, let’s revise our Mock Draft and see who makes it to Dallas at #5.
#1 Pick: Phoenix Suns select DeAndre Ayton
We think we know Phoenix is locked in on DeAndre Ayton. No big surprise there. He’s the droid you are looking for.
#2 Pick: Sacramento Kings select Michael Porter Jr.
The crux of this article is the surprise scenario in which Sacramento goes with Michael Porter Jr. at #2. He’d be an amazing addition to De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and the potential greatness of a healthy Harry Giles. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen. And I’m certainly not saying that they’d have anything other than an exciting team. If this happens, I’m sad for my Mavs, but I’m all-in on NBA League Pass so I can catch my new second favorite team. Turns out I was a year premature in predicting the Kings as must-watch TV.
#3 Pick: Atlanta Hawks select Marvin Bagley III
Based on team needs, Atlanta needs to sell tickets and the promise of a product worth watching. Marvin Bagley is the most dynamic player in this draft, exhibiting incredible leaping ability, penetration, and quickness. He’s the guy you want your struggling franchise to build around. There are more consistent shooters available, but Bagley will drive ticket sales, jersey sales, and pump new life into a stagnant franchise. He makes too much sense here to go risk a #3 pick on the likes of unpredictable Jaren Jackson Jr.
#4 Pick: Memphis Grizzlies select Luka Doncic
Memphis was once a powerhouse… A perennial playoff team in the West that reached the Conference Semi Finals three times between 2011 and 2015 with one Western Conference Finals appearance in 2013. Since that time, they’ve lost Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Shane Battier, and OJ Mayo.
Mike Conley and Marc Gasol bookend an otherwise unspectacular roster, with our very own Chandler Parsons soaking up champagne and cap space. Luka Doncic adds youth, experience, shot creation, court vision, and basketball IQ to a team in desperate need of a revamp.
The other most likely scenario is the Grizz select Jaren Jackson Jr., which I’m very much in favor of. That gives Dallas a wonderful opportunity to pick between Luka Doncic and Mohamed Bamba. Either is a safe bet, and I’m going to walk away knowing the Mavericks roster is better than it was.
#5 Pick: Dallas Mavericks select Jaren Jackson?
It’s a total toss up: My worst draft nightmare. Michael Porter Jr. is gone and Jaren Jackson Jr. is available. The temptation to acquire a supposed top 4 talent could sway the great Nelson Jr. What will Donnie do?
Let’s revisit the questions surrounding Jaren Jackson:
According to Sports-Reference.com, Jackson only averaged 10.9 points per game. He averaged 5.8 total rebounds per game. His 51% field goal percentage is good enough and his three point shooting percentage was 39.6%. Any team can live with those. His three blocks per game are also a significant plus.
Jackson only played 21.8 minutes per game (compared to Marvin Bagley’s 33.8 minutes per game) due to consistent foul trouble. So you’ve got a guy who shoots well and blocks shots but can’t stay on the court. This, to me, is just as concerning as all the speculation surrounding Michael Porter Jr.’s back surgery.
Can Rick Carlisle and associates coach the frenetic fouls out of Jackson’s system? Can they keep him on the court long enough to utilize his impressive shooting percentage? Very possibly. It’s just not the sort of problem I want to have to deal with going into a rookie season.
Save a Daniel. Draft a Bamba.
In this scenario, my hope is that Dallas sticks with Mohamed Bamba. He’s the safe choice and only viable step-back-from-the-ledge scenario. As I mentioned in my last Mavs mock draft article, Bamba is a wonderful freak of nature at 7’1″ 225lbs and an 8′ wingspan. He’s working hard this offseason on his shooting form and it’s improved the speed of his release.
If you’re going to build your future around speculative 19 year old talent, Bamba is the talent you are looking for. Jaren Jackson may develop into a perennial All-Star talent, but he also may max out at being a serviceable starter on a middle of the pack team. If he plateaus around Harrison Barnes’ production level, he’ll be good but not great – the third best talent on an NBA team.