Santa Cruz Warriors (9-2) at Fort Wayne Mad Ants (5-10)
4 p.m. PST
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum - Ft. Wayne, IN
Video feed: YouTube
Within two years of gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated in November 1999 for representing the key to the Auburn Tigers' championship hopes, Chris Porter was arrested on drug possession charges and out of the NBA (h/t to @TrappdnGoldenSt for digging that up). It has to be among the more rapid falls from grace in the history of SI cover photos.
So naturally, the Golden State Warriors were part of that story.
Surely, diehard fans (particularly the 14 of you who voted for Porter as your favorite player in the last decade) remember the former Golden State Warriors draft pick (2000, 55th pick), who was at the very least a source of entertainment during an absolutely dreadful time in franchise history if never able to live up to the hype. This was a guy who drew lofty comparisons to "Jerome Kersey and Tyrone Corbin to Bo Outlaw all the way up to Dennis Rodman" as described in a 2000 article by Bud Geracie about his summer league performance after falling further in the draft than most people expected. A guy who - if I recall correctly, though I can't find any evidence of it now - was considered a lottery pick had he left school the year before he was drafted.
If you're looking for cases that epitomize the notion of ridiculous upside in its most unfortunate sense - at a time before the explosion of careful draft analysis among the masses - while simultaneously representing the past that makes this Golden State season so satisfying for those of us who have hung in there, Porter has to be among the top candidates.
I had completely forgotten about Porter until I was looking over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants' roster in advance of the Santa Cruz Warriors game today and while I doubt he'll be a significant factor in the outcome, it is interesting to revisit his story through the lens of the D-League.
@trappdngoldenst @natep_sbn Porter can still run the floor. I think he's in FW as a locker room leader, but has dropped a few buckets.— Ryan Ripley (@ryanripley) January 3, 2013
But for anybody other than nostalgic Warriors fans, Porter won't be the story today.
Although the Warriors will be without Golden State assignees Kent Bazemore and Jeremy Tyler today, the Mad Ants feature a pair of Indiana Pacers players who were just assigned to the team today: Orlando Johnson and Miles Plumlee, both rookies who - like Bazemore - have been back and forth between the D-League and the Association.
Yet like the Warriors, the Mad Ants have more players to watch than their NBA assignees. They recently acquired Luke Harrangody, who Ryan Ripley of SB Nation's Ridiculous Upside has described as a player who we can expect to, "...emerge as the 20-and-10 beast that he was last year, and as a top prospect in the D-League." Guard Sadiel Rojas is not only among the most efficient scorers in the league but also a lockdown defender, according to Ripley.
In addition to this being a test for the Warriors, it might be a good game to see players other than the NBA stars making an impact with more minutes available. For those who have come to enjoy the games for the team itself rather than just its function within the organization, this should be a fun one to watch.
Consider this your game thread. You can watch at the YouTube link above.