After going undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft, Missouri forward Jontay Porter is free to pick a team to sign with. San Antonio would be the perfect place for the intriguing prospect to start his pro career.
Heading into his sophomore season with the Missouri Tigers, the questions surrounding Jontay Porter were about how high he might be drafted. By the time the 2019 NBA Draft rolled around, the narrative changed to wondering if he would be drafted at all.
After two ACL tears in less than a year, Porter was viewed by many as a low-risk, high-upside pick in the latter parts of the second round. You don’t find many players with Porter’s talent still on the board that late. Teams were reasonably worried about the health of Porter’s knee. Ultimately, Porter would not hear his name called on draft night, but that could be a blessing in disguise.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN recently wrote a fascinating piece on the possibility of changing the way new players come into the NBA. His proposal was to allow incoming players to have a greater voice in where they start their careers. Porter now finds himself in the advantageous position of being able to choose where he starts his NBA journey.
Porter and the San Antonio Spurs would be a perfect fit for each other. He should be looking for a situation where he won’t be asked to contribute soon, can go through an established player development process and continue to recover from his second ACL tear – San Antonio can offer all three.
No two injuries are exactly the same, but Dejounte Murray’s recovery from his torn ACL can give us an idea of how San Antonio would handle Porter’s recovery. Throughout his recovery process, Murray was constantly around Spurs coaches. Porter could go through a similar process. What better way for a player with Porter’s passing ability and high basketball IQ to start their tenure in the NBA than by learning from Gregg Popovich in coaching meetings every day.
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As for player development, there isn’t a team in the league that can match San Antonio’s track record. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are outliers, but one glance at the current roster shows proof of the Spurs’ process. There’s a promising group of young players on the roster and almost every one of them has spent time with the Austin Spurs. Jontay Porter could follow the same path and become a valuable contributor in his sophomore season.
The Spurs organization has a lot to offer Jontay Porter, but he’s bringing a lot to the table as well. He’s a rare talent with an exciting combination of skills. His ceiling is as a Nikola Jokic-like talent with a unique combination of size, shooting, and passing ability. He would allow the Spurs to build their team similarly to how Denver has developed theirs.
The Nuggets run their offense through Jokic’s passing ability and a group of young attacking guards. San Antonio could follow a similar model with Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker surrounding Porter.
Not hearing his name called on draft night was surely a disappointment for Jontay Porter. But now, as an undrafted free agent, he can control where he starts his career. Should he choose San Antonio, it might just be the best decision he’ll ever make.