Michael Porter Jr. Slips To Nuggets At No. 14

In one of the major surprises of draft night so far, Michael Porter Jr. – who was once considered a frontrunner to be the No. 1 pick of 2018 – nearly slipped out of the lottery, going to the Nuggets at No. 14.

According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter), Denver strongly considered selecting Zhaire Smith before deciding to roll the dice on Porter.

Word began circulating hours before the draft that Porter could slide out of the top 10 due to concerns about the long-term health of his back and hip. Many teams were said to be put off by a medical report on Porter earlier this week.

As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets, at least one team’s doctors believe that Porter will require surgery on his back, and the possibility that he’d miss most or all of his rookie season was apparently enough to scare several clubs away. According to TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link), the Wizards wouldn’t have taken Porter at No. 15 if Denver had passed.

Still, Porter makes for an interesting gamble for the Nuggets, who already have several core building blocks in place. He’ll join Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Nikola Jokic as long-term cornerstones in Denver.

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