When Jerami Grant decided to join the Pistons to be the no.1 guy on a team, many people rolled their eyes. The Nuggets offered basically the same contract and a chance to win the title. But Grant wanted to bet on himself and left for Detroit. He is now putting up 22.6/4.7/2.9 as the no.1 guy on the worst team in the East.
Confidence is important. If you want to be the best, you can’t shy away from the spotlight. Legends are made in Game 7s, with the game on the line. But as much as a lack of confidence can be a problem, so can the abundance of confidence. Look, if Grant is happy on the Pistons and sees potential in the team, power to him. But players often overestimate themselves, want to be more than they are, and it results in a career that is later described with “If only he had….” When it comes to an abundance of confidence, Grant’s former teammate said what is possibly the least humble thing an NBA player ever said about himself.
“Right now, I’m a little, I’m a mix of Giannis and KD. You know, I like going to the hole a little more than KD does, I like bumping into people a little more physical than KD. But I also, you know I like to shoot the ball more than Giannis. So that’s what I like to compare myself to. Then also Tracy McGrady. I get compared to him a lot and I like that one a lot too. You know, those are three amazing players. So it doesn’t feel bad to be in the same conversation as them.”Michael Porter Jr.
The Giannis-KD-T-Mac mix is a bold statement to make in any scenario, but this is even worse when taking into account this was Porter talking about himself before the Draft. He hadn’t played a single second of NBA basketball, and Denver got him at 14 because of his concerning injury history. I don’t remember anyone having Porter Jr. “in the same conversation as them” except, obviously, Porter jr. himself.
The list of players who said outlandish things about themselves is not the group you want to be in. There’s Hassan Whiteside, who, after his trade to Portland, said he saw himself as more of a “point center” and said he could get a triple-double with assists. Whiteside went on to average 1 assist per game and signed a minimum contract with the Kings. The irony is, Heat did find a legit point-center to replace Whiteside, Bam Adebayo. Then we have Dwight Howard in his Orlando days.
“When he [Dwight] told me he was an icon, guess what three names he used [to compare himself to]? Michael Jordan. Muhammad Ali. Nelson Mandela.”Bob Vander Weide, The Orlando Sentinel
Howard was one of the best players in the NBA when he played hard defense, set screens, and rolled to the rim. But Dwight, one of the most mechanical players in NBA history, decided he would be the next Hakeem. Suddenly, if he didn’t get 5 possessions at the elbow each half, his effort went down. Brick after brick, Dwight “put himself into the conversation” with one of the most talented, fluid centers of all time. Next, one has to mention Kyrie Irving in his last Celtics days.
“We’ll be fine…Because I’m here. I am a basketball genius.”Kyrie Irving
Kyrie went on to shoot 4/18, 8/22, 7/22, and 6/21 while coasting on defense as the Celtics lost four straight games to the Bucks. After the 8/22 game, Irving said, “I don’t think you’ll see another 8/22 from me.” He was right – the next game, he went 7/22. Thinking of perimeter players, one of the greatest guys to ever give a humble quote is definitely Monte Ellis.
As you can see from this small sample, not a group Porter Jr. wants to be in. The good thing is he landed in Denver on a team with Nikola Jokić being the obvious no.1 guy and Mike Malone implementing discipline. So last year, when Porter publicly said he needs to get more shots in the playoffs, it was nipped in the bud. A few organizations have the strength and consistency in dealing with an abundance of confidence, and the Nuggets seem to be one of those teams.