The Denver Nuggets Mined Gold With Michael Porter Jr.
“With the 14th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets select, Michael Porter Jr.!” Those words spoken by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver filled Nuggets fans’ hearts with hope and excitement. After playing just 53 minutes in college, there were worries that the highly skilled MPJ would ever make an impact in the NBA due to his health issues. However, after sitting out his entire first season with the Nuggets, the league is now starting to see that the Denver Nuggets mined gold with Michael Porter Jr.
There was never a question as to whether or not Porter Jr. possessed the tools needed to be a prolific offensive threat in the league. Recently, he is starting to show just how deadly he can be. It has been a bit of a struggle for head coach Michael Malone to get playing time for Porter as his team is coming off one of the best seasons in franchise history. That coupled with an abundance of players that deserve playing time has limited Porter’s minutes.
In October, MPJ only played one game. November rolled around and he averaged around 13 minutes. In the limited time he has been given, he has shined, showing his potential. Most recently, over the past four games, he is averaging 19.8 minutes per game. What has he done with those minutes? In those four games, he is averaging 15.5 points on 72 FG% and 50% from beyond the arc. In the first start of his career, Porter Jr. scored a team-high 19 points to go with 6 rebounds and a nice assist. When given the opportunity, it is clear that MPJ has the skills to be a great scorer. Most recently, he had himself the night of his career. Thursday against the Pacers, he had 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting, as well as 6 rebounds.
Michael Porter Jr. with the clean step back 3🔥pic.twitter.com/QlUDh16JAM
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) January 3, 2020
Here you can see an example of MPJ’s ability to create space as he uses his length to deliver a deadly step back and nails the three-pointer. He is so talented at creating looks for himself and has the length to shoot over just about anyone.
While Porter has offensive skills for days, the part of his game that still needs some work is on the defensive end. He has the body and length to be an effective defender. However, he lacks the reps to truly understand the spots he needs to be in. I believe with time and experience, MPJ can greatly improve on the defensive end of the floor.
MPJ getting up for the block!#MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/TQGrVOXOLs
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) November 23, 2019
Here is an example of how MPJ uses his length and athleticism to be an effective shot blocker. He just needs to learn defensive spacing and timing and he could turn into an effective two-way player. One player comparison people make to Porter Jr. is Kevin Durant.
This is likely due to his offensive skillset as both players are able to get the shots they want. Hopefully, with time and effort, MPJ can turn into the offensive threat that Durant is. I believe that this comparison also holds weight on the defensive end. Durant is not an all-NBA defender, but he does use his length and basketball IQ to make some great defensive plays. The same could be expected from the young MPJ.
Michael Porter Jr.’s future with the Denver Nuggets is bright. Being untouchable in trade talks, the Nuggets have made it clear that they wish to hold on to the pool of potential that is MPJ. Fans believe that the Denver Nuggets mined gold with him and the organization seem to believe it themselves.
With a consolidation trade possibly coming for the Nuggets, who have too many pieces to play, MPJ could carve out more consistent and meaningful minutes with the Nuggets, which will accelerate his growth and lead to him being a very important piece for this team. If you haven’t been paying attention to the young talent of Michael Porter Jr., now is the time to start!