When the Denver Nuggets used the 14th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on Michael Porter Jr., many people thought they had come away with the biggest steal in the draft. Porter was the No. 2 recruit out of high school and many believed he would be in the running for the top pick whenever he declared for the draft.
Unfortunately, that never came to fruition. Porter dealt with back issues during his short time at Missouri, which dropped him down the draft board. Some franchises removed him from their big boards altogether because they thought the injury risk was too high.
Those teams, thus far, have been proven correct. Porter missed the first season of his career because of an injury to his back. He was a part-time rotation player the following season before breaking out and averaging 19 points per game in his third season and appearing in 61 games.
The 2021-22 season was expected to be a big one for Porter, but once again, back injuries popped up. He played in only nine games before missing the remainder of the season following another operation.
The skill is certainly there as Porter has lead the league in scoring type potential. He has the size to shoot over any defender and has range beyond the 3-point line. There isn’t a spot he can’t score from, evident from his 64.6 effective field goal percentage and 66.3 true shooting percentage during the 2020-21 season.
Beyond his health, there is plenty that Porter still needs to prove at this level. One NBA scout that spoke to NBA Analysis Network believes that he can take his game to yet another level.
“He’s been a great catch-and-shoot guy and off-ball threat in general. I’d like to see him play with the ball in his hands more. I think it would pay off big for the Nuggets if they established him as more of a threat running ball screens with Jokic and forcing the defense to switch. Put him in situations where you would a star wing and see how he reacts. His contract is huge now, so he’s got to show those things more.”
Almost all of the offense in Denver is run through Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Putting Porter into advantageous situations to get the most out of his impressive skill set would make sense for Michael Malone.
Expanding his offensive repertoire would make an already talented scorer such as Porter that much more difficult to stop. Teams are going to be unable to key in on him when the Nuggets are healthy as Jokic and Murray are just as capable of carrying the offensive load as well.
What Denver needs from Porter is for him to improve defensively. If that occurs, they will reach new heights and become legitimate contenders in the Western Conference.
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