All 60 picks in Thursday’s NBA draft came and went without a team selecting Missouri’s Jontay Porter, the latest setback in a career that seemed so promising two years ago.
After a knee injury wrecked his sophomore season at Missouri and a re-injury this spring, Porter might not play in another official game until 2020 — whether that’s in the NBA, the G League or somewhere overseas.
Porter, the Southeastern Conference’s co-sixth man of the year as a freshman in 2017-18, explored his draft stock last year but pulled out of the draft shortly after the NBA Combine, even though he later insisted he would have been a first-round pick based on feedback he received.
By the fall Porter recovered from a nagging case of knee tendinitis and appeared poised for a monster sophomore year as Mizzou’s best returning player. But just weeks before the start of the season, he tore two knee ligaments during a closed preseason exhibition, costing him the entire year.
It was just the latest injury to strike the Porter family that proved costly in the NBA draft. Older brother and former Mizzou teammate Michael Porter Jr. sat out his rookie year with the Denver Nuggets this past season while recovering from a back injury that sidelined him for most of his lone season at Mizzou and dropped him to the 14th pick last summer.
In March, after announcing plans to enter the draft, Jontay re-tore his anterior cruciate ligament during a pickup game with his brother before he was medically cleared to return to the court. He might need another year to recover from a second major knee surgery, perhaps keeping him sidelined until the 2020-21 season.
Despite the injuries to his knee, he was widely projected to be taken in the second round Thursday. His stock seemed secure when Auburn’s Chuma Okeke, who suffered a similar knee injury in March, was taken in the first round by the Orlando Magic with the 16th pick. But Porter’s name was never called.
He was in position to become the fourth straight Mizzou player drafted after playing just one season for the Tigers, following Alex Oriakhi (2013), Jordan Clarkson (2014) and Michael Porter Jr. (2018).