Denver Nuggets: Season Grades for the 2018-19 Players

Denver Nuggets (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images) /
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Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets (Photos by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /

So exciting but so many questions.

Mark your calendars, Denver Nuggets faithful, July 5, 2019 will see the professional debut of Michael Porter Jr. The Nuggets big coup/steal from the 2018 draft has teased fans for a year with practice gym videos and tales from teammates detailing the physical prowess the 6’10” forward brings to the league.

Caution is also advised, though.

MPJ has played precisely 53 minutes of basketball at a NCAA or NBA level. Nobody truly knows how skilled he is or will be. Oh, boy his high school career, though. He has all the accolades and was the consensus top prospect in the country after spending his senior season in Seattle.

He has incredible touch for a big man, he has great handles and he’s shown great leaping ability even after dual back surgeries.

The microdiscectomy surgery that Porter underwent has an 84% success rate, Scottie Pippen and Steve Nash recovered to have great success after the surgery. Historically, there’s good reason to be optimistic that Porter can not only recover but runs no greater risk or reinjury.

The possibilities are enough to get a Nuggets fan salivating.  Porter could step directly into the starting small forward spot, Denver could restructure Paul Millsap‘s contract, keeping continuity at the 4. That gives the Nuggets a starting five of Nikola Jokic, Millsap, Porter, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray.  That is a formidable squad made elite if MPJ has an eye for defense.

Conversely, the Nuggets could decline to pick up Millsap’s option, move MPJ to the power forward and start Torrey Craig at the small forward spot.  That keeps both the scoring and the defense intact but may be too physically demanding on Porter.  Will Barton could also return to form and retake the starting 3 spot but given the options facing the Nuggets, it’s hard to believe Barton is the answer at the position. Barton’s time as a starter in Denver is likely at an end, barring injury, whichever way the Nuggets utilize Porter, Thrill will feel the squeeze.

The series will continue with a look at the backcourt starters and reserves, look for the next installment soon!