Who Will Step up to be the Denver Nuggets’ Second All-Star?
It’s no secret that Nikola Jokić is the Denver Nuggets All-Star center and candidate for MVP this season, averaging 26.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game. Nikola Jokić was voted in for his third All-Star game and will be the only player at the game representing the Denver Nuggets. This raises the question: who will be Denver’s second All-Star?
The big three aka Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter are +13.8 as a trio per 100 possessions this season. It’s clear that all three work together well when Murray is shooting, Porter is rebounding and Jokić doing Jokić things. But between the two (Michael and Jamal), one must step up to become Denver’s second All-Star and help out the already established All-Star center if the Nuggets are looking to make a deep run in playoffs again.
Who Will Step up and be the Denver Nuggets’ Second All-Star?
Jamal Murray’s Case
There’s no denying that Jamal Murray will go down in history as one of the best point guards. That is unless you haven’t seen all he has done. Just over a week ago, Jamal Murray made history by being the first player in NBA history to score 50 points without trying a free throw. Yet, this wasn’t his first 50 point game. Let’s not forget his unforgettable performance in the bubble just a couple of months ago where he averaged 26.5 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and shot 45.3 percent from three on 7.2 attempts per game. The Blue Arrow had two 50 point games in the Utah vs. Denver series in the first round of playoffs which forced a game seven and ultimately led Denver to the next round.
With a slow start to the beginning of this season from being injured, many referred to Jamal as “bubble Murray.” This basically implied that his performance in the Bubble was his peak. However, his stats, leadership, and perseverance to win say otherwise. In just his last nine games, Jamal has averaged 31.8 points, 5.1 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and shot 50.7 percent from three on 9.1 attempts per game. With a struggling Denver Nuggets team, Jamal has certainly stepped up offensively. Hopefully, this translates into an All-Star role and hopefully continues throughout the rest of the season.
Michael Porter Jr.’s Case
After being inactive for the first half of January, MPJ found himself coming off the bench. We saw him trying to build a connection with the seven new Nuggets players that were signed in the off-season. Since Porter has returned it has not been an easy road. He has averaged 12.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and shot 41.6 percent from three on 5.3 attempts per game. Offensively, Michael Porter Jr. has not been much help to the Nuggets. On the defensive side though, he has taken a step up.
With Gary Harris out, Michael has been working on his defense and is ranked 18th in block percentage. Unfortunately, his shot selection has been the topic surrounding Michael after going through a bad stretch with his shooting during games. Yet during this time of not shooting well, he improved a lot on defense, which is being overlooked. Michael said for himself after a blowout win against the Oklahoma City Thunder Saturday night, “I think that shooting slump is going to be a blessing in disguise because I got to work on other parts of my game.” Since his shooting slump, in his last five games, Michael has averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 40.0 percent from three this season.
This Denver Nuggets team is a special group. Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray are no doubt the dynamic duo on this team. However, an overlooked key piece in this offense and defense is Michael Porter Jr. The big three as stated before, all can work together in a game with each thriving. We saw that in Saturday’s game against the Thunder. Jamal Murray has proven he is eventually to be Denver’s second All-Star. With that said, don’t sleep on Michael Porter Jr. seeing how much he has improved in all areas of his game this season.
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