Pelicans should target Jontay Porter in 2nd Round of 2019 NBA Draft

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

If the New Orleans Pelicans want to get a steal in the 2nd Round of the 2019 NBA Draft, selecting Jontay Porter from Missouri at 39th overall could accomplish just that.

We all know what the New Orleans Pelicans will do with their #1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Predicting the #4 pick seems pretty straightforward as well, with players like Jarrett Culver, Darius Garland, and De’Andre Hunter seeming like the most likely candidates in this range. The team’s second rounders, however, are a bit more up in the air.

Drafting in the second round is enormously different than the first. Here, teams are looking for hidden gems. It’s not at all uncommon to see teams “reach” for players in this area simply because there’s little risk involved. If you miss on your second rounder, so what? Hopefully, you already snagged a guy or two in the first round that pan out for you.

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Jontay Porter of the University of Missouri is curently slotted in many mock drafts to go anywhere in the 30s or 40s. The New Orleans Pelicans happen to own the 39th pick in this NBA Draft, so Porter could definitely still be on the board when this selection is made. And New Orleans fans should pray that he is.

To be sure, he’s a risk. I mean, the kid tore his ACL in the fall of 2018 and then re-tore it again in March of this year. That’s devastating for him, and concerning for any team considering him tonight. If these injuries never happened, there’s a real chance he’d be a lotto pick this year, likely challenging Jaxson Hayes of Texas as the best center prospect in the draft pool.

Instead, Porter will likely be a second rounder. But, as mentioned before, this is where teams will gamble. Surely, somebody will snag him in this round and stash him on the roster until he’s able to return to action. He’ll be rusty, as he has already missed his entire sophomore year of collegiate competition. He won’t be ready for action at the start of this upcoming NBA season either, but he’s still just 19 years old.

What Jontay brings to the floor is arguably the best and most complete skillset of the modern center of anyone in the 2019 NBA Draft. He’s shifty and quick for his size. His court vision is way above average. He can zip one-handed, cross-court lasers to his teammates like a point guard. And, he can shoot the long ball. Imagine a much leaner version of Nikola Jokic, and you start to get the idea.

In his freshman season, Porter shot about 36% from 3 point range and 75% from the free throw line. For his nearly 7 foot tall frame, these are extremely encouraging numbers, especially considering that he’ll only keep improving as a pro.

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Like his brother Michael Porter Jr, unfortunate injuries majorly hurt the draft stock of Jontay Porter. However, he still has a great chance to hear his name called Thursday night in the 2019 NBA Draft. The New Orleans Pelicans need help at the center position, and even though Porter won’t be ready to roll for a little while, he is the prototypical Stretch-5 that Zion Williamson would benefit greatly from sharing the floor with.