The Missouri Tigers were elated that Michael Porter Jr., one of the most highly-touted high school prospects, committed to their program in 2017. A back injury, however, limited him to just three games of college basketball.
Porter Jr. returned from the said injury to play the Tigers’ last two games. He averaged a rather disappointing 10.0 points and 6.7 rebounds on just 33.3% shooting.
Before the devastating injury, Michael Porter Jr. was the near consensus choice to become the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NBA draft. Deandre Ayton took that honor with Duke’s Marvin Bagley III coming in second. The biggest prize, however, went to the Dallas Mavericks who traded up to get Luka Doncic instead of Trae Young.
Porter Jr. was an afterthought with a red flag until the Denver Nuggets took a chance on him as the 14th pick. Denver knew he will sit out the first year to recover from the said back injury but still decided to nab him.
Here’s what “MPJ” had to say to Dan Patrick after he fell to 14th:
“When you’re drafted number one, all you can do is prove everybody right. But being drafted at 14, I get to prove everybody wrong, so that will be really fun and I can’t wait to do that.”
Michael Porter Jr. added that he would have been NBA-worthy had his back not given out on him:
“That was before my back took a turn for the worse, it had already been bothering me a little bit but it got much worse in college. But I think that jump for me, to the NBA, would have been pretty smooth coming out of high school.”
Michael Porter Jr. showed a glimpse of what he can do in his first two relatively healthy seasons with the Denver Nuggets. He averaged 14.4 points on 53.2% shooting, including 43.9% from deep. In his fourth season, he was limited to nine games for yet another back injury.
The Nuggets signed him to a massive five-year $207 million deal despite knowing his injury history. This year, he is earning $30.9 million, which was initially criticized by fans.
Michael Porter Jr. is repaying the trust the Denver Nuggets gave him
Expectations were high for Michael Porter Jr as he entered his fifth season with the Denver Nuggets. He was due for a big payday, which was why Nuggets fans were hoping he’d be able to contribute.
In 62 regular-season games, he averaged 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists. Porter Jr.’s shooting has been crucial in the Nuggets’ run to the best record in the Western Conference before the playoffs. He shot 48.7%, hitting 41.4% of his three-pointers.
Michael Porter Jr. is now in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone is giving him bigger responsibilities on both ends of the floor. “MPJ” showed just that in Game 1.
Porter Jr. played 43 minutes, second behind Jamal Murray, and finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and one assist. His blocks were emphatic rejections of a Jimmy Butler jumper and a Caleb Martin layup.
The former Missouri Tiger can score, but he has already made his mark with his defense and rebounding. Denver will need him to sustain what he’s doing to bag the Nuggets’ first championship in franchise history.