Zarcaro: Raptors’ Jontay Porter is the center of the latest sports betting scandal

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Toronto Raptors betting graphic. - Graphic / Brendan Cohen

On Monday, March 26, ESPN reported that Jontay Porter of the Toronto Raptors is being investigated surrounding prop bets that involved his personal statistics. This scandal is one of the few that have emerged recently revolving around the topic of sports betting, but this particular case has a chance to be the worst one yet. 

Who is Jontay Porter?

Growing up alongside his brother Michael Porter Jr., it’s obvious that both of them were destined to play in the NBA. While Jontay was not as good as Michael, who was the No. 1 player in his class coming out of high school, he was still good enough to get Divison I offers. Both siblings ended up going to the University of Missouri.

Injuries have been a problem for both of the brothers, with Michael having career-threatening back injuries throughout college and Jontay tearing his ACL and MCL in 2018. While rehabbing from both of those injuries, he tore his ACL again in 2019. With both of them being in college while suffering these injuries, this stunted both of their developments coming into the league.

Jontay wound up going undrafted in 2019 but got an opportunity with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2020. He made eleven appearances with Memphis, but the Grizzlies did not re-sign him in the off-season. Porter then played for the Wisconsin Herd, Motor City Cruise, and the Raptors 905 in the G League before getting signed by the Raptors in December 2023. 

What Happened?

Porter made his debut for the Raptors on Jan. 3, 2024, after being called up from the Raptors G League affiliate, Raptors 905. On Jan. 26, Porter played against the Clippers, and sports bettors were betting on the 24-year-old like never before.

DraftKings ended up flagging a lot of the bettors due to “multiple irregularities.” Everyone started taking the under for his points, rebounds and assists. Porter did enter the game but exited just four minutes into his stint. Apparently, Porter suffered an eye injury in his previous game on Jan. 22, and it was said he re-aggravated that same eye injury. The most profitable Porter prop on DraftKings that night was his under-in three-pointers made.

We wouldn’t see a case like this involving Porter again until March 20, when the Raptors played the Sacramento Kings. After being in for only three minutes, Porter once again took himself out of the game. In those three minutes, Porter put up zero points, zero assists, and two rebounds. This time it was reported that Porter had an illness, and didn’t feel well enough to play the game. DraftKings followed by reporting the same issue as before, that there were irregular activities on their platform and that there was a lot of money being wagered on Porter. Since the NBA started this investigation, Porter has not played a single game due to “personal reasons.”

Why is this weirder than other sports betting cases?

A low-minute player like Jontay Porter receiving so much interest in the sports betting industry is something that has never been seen before. Porter is currently on a two-way contract, which means he can suit up for both the Raptors and their G League affiliate. Not only was Porter, not a lock to get re-signed by the Raptors, there was a chance that Porter would never see an NBA contract again.

It’s very suspicious that Porter took himself out of the two games where more bets were placed on him than normal, which suggests that a lot of people were too confident that the bets would hit.

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