Kevin Porter Jr.: ‘A lot of people say I’m one of most talented in the draft’
With the June 20 NBA Draft just days away, it’s time to take a closer look at the options the Heat will have with the No. 13 pick.
Let’s start with a look at the guards who are expected to be selected in the Heat’s range in the first round …
Kevin Porter Jr., SG, Southern California
Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech
WHAT TO KNOW
It’s obviously not a deep group, with top guard prospects Ja Morant from Murray State, Darius Garland from Vanderbilt and Coby White from North Carolina widely projected to be taken before the Heat picks at No. 13. But if the Heat is looking to add a guard, there are a few options it could turn to (and they are each very different).
Porter, who averaged 9.5 points on 47.1 percent shooting and four rebounds in 21 games as a freshman this past season, is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward prospect. With a 6-6, 212-pound frame, Porter has the potential to turn into a dynamic offensive player because of his athleticism and shot-making skills. But there are off-court concerns, as he was suspended at USC in the middle of the season for “conduct issues.” Porter told reporters in Charlotte, North Carolina, during the weekend that his Heat workout in Miami will be Thursday. To use the pick on Porter, the Heat needs to find a comfort level with a player whose limited body of work includes a brief suspension and only 21 college games.
Herro (6-6, 192 pounds) is one of the most talented shooters in this year’s draft class, especially off the dribble. He averaged 14 points on 46.2 percent shooting from the field and 35.5 percent (60 of 169) shooting on threes, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 37 games as a freshman this past season. The question is: Can Herro be more than just a shooter in the NBA? He displayed the ability to get to the rim and was an efficient finisher around the basket in his one college season. Defense is another question mark. Herro told reporters in Orlando earlier this week that he will work out for the Heat in Miami before the draft.
Alexander-Walker, a 20-year-old Canadian prospect, averaged 16.2 points on 47.4 percent shooting from the field and 37.4 percent shooting on threes to go with 4.1 rebounds, four assists and 1.9 steals as a sophomore this past season. With Alexander-Walker measuring at 6-4.25 and 204 pounds with a 6-9.5 wingspan at the Combine last month, he’s a big guard who can play as both a point guard and shooting guard. The concern is there isn’t much upside when it comes to Alexander-Walker’s game because scouting reports say he doesn’t have the athleticism to consistently play above the rim. However, he projects to be an above-average three-point shooter who has shown the ability to play off the ball with his movement away from the action and also on the ball in pick-and-rolls. While the concern is there isn’t much upside, Alexander-Walker is a prospect who could have a high floor.
WHAT ARE OTHERS SAYING?
ESPN’s latest mock draft has Porter (22nd to Celtics), Herro (16th to Magic) and Alexander-Walker (18th to Pacers) going outside of the lottery.
Would it be a reach for the Heat to select any of them at No. 13? That’s a question that needs to be explored, but it’s important to note that some mock drafts have Porter and Herro going in the lottery because of their projected upside. Alexander-Walker is widely projected to be selected later in the first round.
“Porter will start getting looks as high as the late lottery, but the question marks about his approach to the game appear to have taken a toll on his draft stock,” ESPN NBA Draft analyst Jonathan Givony wrote. “At this stage of the draft [No. 22 to Celtics], the rewards likely outweigh the risks, as Porter can become another creator on the perimeter who can shoulder some of the scoring load. Porter has the size and versatility to slot into a variety of lineup configurations.”
Explaining the Herro-to-the-Magic prediction, Givony wrote: “Adding a combo guard such as Herro — who can play pick-and-roll, make shots while set or on the move and bring competitiveness and feel — makes a lot of sense.”
As for Alexander-Walker, Givony wrote he’s “coming off an outstanding sophomore season, making significant strides on both ends of the floor. He has the perimeter shooting ability, length, feel and versatility Indiana typically covets.”
BOTTOM LINE FOR HEAT
There’s a need for another perimeter scorer on the Heat’s roster, especially with Dwyane Wade now retired and Goran Dragic’s contract expiring at the end of this upcoming season (if he opts-in this summer, as expected). Throw in the fact the Heat traded Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington and waived Rodney McGruder this past season and drafting a guard this year makes some sense.
The problem is there aren’t many to choose from in the Heat’s range, and there are big question marks that come with each option. Porter is projected to have the most upside, but there’s some risk because of off-court and maturity issues he seemed to struggle with on the college level. Herro is an intriguing prospect because of his ability to shoot off the dribble, which is a skill that teams covet in today’s NBA. But can he ever be more than just a shooter? And Alexander-Walker could be the safe option because he’s projected to have a high floor, but Porter and Herro are projected to have more upside than him.