Porter: Pick me and Knicks would get ‘best player in draft’

New York Daily News - - SPORTS - BY STE­FAN BONDY BY STE­FAN BONDY

CHICAGO — A day af­ter he met with the Knicks, Michael Porter Jr. de­clared him­self the great­est prospect.

“I know with­out a doubt — I’ve played against all these guys — but I’m the best player in this draft,” he said. “I just can’t wait to show what I’m ca­pa­ble of.”

Only a year ago, Porter was ei­ther No. 1 or No. 2 com­ing out of high school, in­ter­chang­ing in the rank­ings with Marvin Ba­gley III.

But then his lone col­lege sea­son was de­railed by back surgery, and scouts don’t know what to make of him ahead of pre­draft work­outs.

“There’s a wide range of where he could end up,” a Western Con­fer­ence scout said Thurs­day. “From No. 3 to 10.”

So can he fall to the Knicks at No. 9? A lot will de­pend on Porter’s med­i­cal eval­u­a­tions and work­outs over the next months, when NBA teams will see how the 19-yearold re­cov­ered. On Thurs­day, the 6-10 for­ward was by far the most con­fi­dent and en­gag­ing me­dia in­ter­view among the two other top prospects in New York’s range — Alabama’s Collin Sex­ton and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges.

Porter also had a con­vinc­ing story about his back surgery, which he un­der­went in Novem­ber to al­le­vi­ate her­ni­ated discs. He said the orig­i­nal in­jury oc­curred when he was a sopho­more in high school when he was un­der­cut on a dunk, and the pain steadily in­creased until Porter de­cided he needed the sur­gi­cal fix as a fresh­man at Mis­souri.

Porter said Thurs­day it has him feel­ing bet­ter than ever.

“They had me as the No. 1 player in high school, but I didn’t even feel I was 100 per­cent,” he said. “And I do now. So now I’m ex­cited to show every­body the player that I am, that I’m still the best player.”

His dis­cus­sion with the Knicks on Wed­nes­day likely in­cluded ques­tions about his health, and Porter said he’s been cleared by his per­sonal doc­tors.

He met with team pres­i­dent Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry and coach David Fiz­dale.

“It’d be awe­some (to play for the Knicks),” he said. “I kind of asked them a cou­ple ques­tions: Where do you live in New York? Do you own a car?

“And they said a cou­ple of guys live out­side the city by the prac­tice fa­cil­ity. So it was a great meet­ing.”

The Knicks also met with Sex­ton and Vil­lanova’s Mikal Bridges on Wed­nes­day. They’re slated to in­ter­view Miles Bridges and Ok­la­homa’s Trae Young on Fri­day.

The Knicks are pri­or­i­tiz­ing a for­ward in the draft.

“I just think if you got a su­per tal­ent, you got a su­per tal­ent. If the drop off from that tal­ent to some­thing that you need is big you’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to go with what you need,” Fiz­dale said. “You can get it later be­cause the guy is so tal­ented you can’t pass on it. It just de­pends on how good that guy is that you need. If he’s there, wait for him. If he’s not you’re prob­a­bly go­ing to go for who’s the best tal­ent.”

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