Star Mizzou F Michael Porter Jr. was cleared to play last week, but didn’t take the court on Saturday night in a loss at Kentucky.

That was a bit strange, but it stands to reason that the Tigers would want to work the freshman back into the mix slowly.

However, if Porter wants to jump to the NBA after this season is over, several NBA executives told ESPN they’d love to see MPJ back on the court before the end of the Tigers’ campaign. Porter could be a top-five or even a top-three pick if all goes according to plan, according to one GM:

“If he wants to be a top five pick, he should play,” one NBA GM told ESPN. “Right now I don’t think he is.”

Other executives echoed that sentiment, saying Porter has a lot to gain by returning to the court and nothing to lose:

“It depends how he looks in practice,” one GM told ESPN. “If he’s the best player in practice two of three days in a row, then he should play.”

“If he’s healthy, he’s not going to slide down too much even if he doesn’t play well,” added another. “Everyone’s seen him. And if he plays well, I think he could move all the way up to the second spot in the draft.”

Porter only played two minutes before going down with a back injury, scoring two points. As the Tigers try to snap an untimely three-game losing streak on Tuesday night at Vanderbilt, having Porter back on the court could be the difference.