A breakout performance by Michael Porter Jr. has the attention of Knicks fans.
In case you’re not on New York Knicks or NBA Twitter, Michael Porter Jr. had a pretty good game on Monday. The 22-year-old forward became the first Nuggets rookie to score at least 35 points and pull down 10 rebounds since another recognizable name did it in 2004: Carmelo Anthony.
After missing all of last season due to a back injury and recently finding his name in the headlines for pushing coronavirus conspiracies, Porter Jr.’s performance on Monday was much needed and a long time in the making.
For some Knicks fans, the 22-year-old’s 37-point night represented a missed opportunity.
New York had a chance to select Porter Jr. in the 2018 NBA Draft, but instead used the 9th overall pick to select Kevin Knox.
Of course, context is needed here. When Porter Jr., who at one time was considered a sure-thing lottery pick, was free-falling on the draft board due to health concerns, the opinion was split on the talented forward.
Some people saw him as the perfect high-risk/high-reward player for the Knicks to capitalize on late in the lottery; while others worried he would become yet another example of the Knicks taking a chance on a promising young player, only to fall flat on their faces.
Honestly, for as bad as Kevin Knox has been in his two seasons in New York, the jury is still out on whether Porter Jr. will turn into anything better over the long-run.
While 37 points and 12 rebounds on 12-16 shooting (including 4-6 from downtown) was an impressive outing for Porter Jr., it’s one game. The Missouri product averaged 7.5 points over his first 49 games played this season. In 33 of those games, he scored in the single digits.
Kevin Knox hasn’t scored much better. He was held under ten points in 48 contests this season, but in his rookie campaign he scored at least 20 points eleven times. In one game against Charlotte, he scored 26 points, connecting on four three-pointers, and grabbed 15 rebounds. There were some individual games when Knox looked good, they just haven’t happened very often, as is the case with Porter Jr.
Impressive scoring or rebounding nights aside, the question still remains whether Porter Jr. can remain healthy and find the right role to realize the potential that made him one of the top recruits in the country out of high school.
What concerns Knicks fans about Knox is that he has been healthy. In other words, the only thing holding him back from proving he can be a productive NBA player is his own playing ability.
If you were picking between the two players again, let’s face it, you are going to select Porter Jr. for his upside.
In fact, there are several other players from the 2018 first round that fans can criticize the Knicks for overlooking in taking Knox. But for now, it’s hard to say Porter Jr. is worth crying about, at least off one breakout performance. He could prove to be a player several teams will be sorry they overlooked in the 2018 draft, but we need to see more.