While Michael Porter, Jr. is not on the Nuggets summer league roster, he is in Las Vegas and he’s been taking shots at practice.
Under most circumstances, this isn’t newsworthy.
This isn’t most circumstances. There’s not a lot out there to justify the excitement that everyone has about Michael Porter Jr.’s arrival in Denver.
First, some details on his injury. To paraphrase: He had herniated disks in his lower back. They were repaired in an outpatient surgery. There’s a chance of reinjury. This injury is fairly common.
It can be scary, we’ve seen back injuries cut short the career of Larry Bird, steal Larry Johnson’s legs and fizzle Steve Nash’s remarkable career. This is how MPJ fell from top prospect to the final lottery pick in the 2018 draft.
Enough of the bad news.
Porter has an incredible ceiling. Shown in the above video, his shot is worthy of all the superlatives that have been laid on it. The thing that strikes me about MPJ’s stroke is that it’s effortless. Most importantly from the video, we see Michael catch, shoot, turn and walk with no apparent lower-back stiffness. He moves easily and fluidly.
Trust me, I know I’m dissecting a fuzzy, minute-and-a-half video that only shows Porter’s makes. It’s silly and premature but this is an important time for the Nuggets. Particularly for the small forward position. With Chandler on to Philadelphia, there’s an opportunity for several players to make some noise at the position.
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The Nuggets will likely look to Will Barton to start at the three this season. Behind him, the field includes Juancho, Torrey Craig and MPJ. Porter is the wildcard, we are not certain that he will play at all this season, possibly choosing a Ben Simmons-esque redshirt year to ensure the health of his back. He may be slowly developed and play limited minutes. He may start. It is far too early in the process to know but the possibilities are exciting.
If MPJ is as-advertised, the Nuggets timeline can move up a year.
If he can start this year?
Just a reminder that Denver was 2-2 against the Warriors last year and since 2012 are 10-11 against the Dubs.
It’s not quite time to favor Denver in the West but we sure can look forward to some epic matchups with the Wolves, Jazz, Blazers and maybe the Warriors.