Michael Porter Jr.: From Risky Pick to Key Player for Denver Nuggets

Despite a bit of a stray going into the title game, watching Michael Porter Jr.’s smooth long-range jumper after another is a nod to the return on investment for the Denver Nuggets. But it’s easy to forget what a risk he was to the Nugget earlier on.

They drafted the 6-foot-10 forward with the 14th pick in the 2018 draft. He is a burly and skilled player. But since college, he’s had three back surgeries and essentially missed two of his five NBA seasons. However, he still showed enough talent that the Nuggets decided to re-sign him.

If the Nuggets hadn’t gambled on him at the beginning, they might not be able to reach the finals now and have a chance to win the first championship in team history. He became the team’s X-factor, forming a formidable trio with Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray.


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“It’s really cool to look back at the journey that’s been made,” said MPJ, who will turn 25 on June 29. “It’s not a time to spend too much time looking back, but to focus on the court. But sometimes , still have to take a moment to look back.”

Going back a few years, MPJ was at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, and his coach was no-nonsense, but NBA All-Star guard Brandon Roy — something MPJ hoped to emulate during his time in the league. example. “He really helped me take my game to the next level,” MPJ said.

A top freshman, he chose to attend the University of Missouri; for MPJ, who grew up in Columbia, it was home. His younger brother, Jontay, also joined him at the University of Missouri, and his father, who was an assistant coach at the University of Washington, also joined the University of Missouri.

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However, his time with the varsity team was also cut short because of his ailing back; he played just two minutes in his first college game. He then underwent a minimally invasive discectomy to correct a herniated disc and made it to the SEC tournament, where he lost to Georgia, and the NCAA tournament, this time to Florida State.


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Even with his back problems, he was favored by the Nuggets in a big year draft that included Deandre Ayton (No. 1 pick), Luka Dončić (No. 3) and Trae Young (No. 5).

MPJ missed his first season in Denver after yet another back surgery. The following year, the Nuggets made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals in the 2020 NBA Bubble and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, during which time he also fully demonstrated his potential. In the 2020/21 season, he averaged 19 points in 61 regular-season games.

However, last season was another big roadblock for MPJ ​​and his back. After nine games, he had to be suspended again for a third surgery.

Murray was also out at the time, recovering from an ACL injury. Watching MPJ’s performance in rehabilitation training, Murray also appreciates MPJ’s achievements in the playoffs more.

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MPJ averaged 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in the playoffs, and he was able to stabilize on defense as well. In the first game against the Heat, he blocked two hot pots. “He’s doing a great job, playing more and more complete every game,” Murray said.

Off the court, MPJ also has to deal with serious family matters. Earlier this year, his younger brother Coban, a basketball player at the University of Denver, faced felony charges of driving homicide and driving injury for allegedly killing a 42-year-old woman while drunk driving. Hearing, just a day before Game 3 against Miami.


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Whenever MPJ ​​needed any advice or feedback on his game, he would call his mentor, Roy. “He’s so important to me,” said MPJ, who signed a five-year deal worth up to $207 million in 2021. “He was my coach in high school, so he could see what my game was like coming back from the injury.” progress.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone also watched as MPJ made a steady comeback with unabashed confidence. “When a person is unhealthy, unable to move and unable to do what he is used to, it is difficult to go on the court to show his skills and ability with confidence. He has a very good professional attitude now.” Malone said.

Right now, though, MPJ absolutely hates being called off. He’s been known to cast a vicious glance at assistant coach Ryan Saunders whenever he’s about to be benched.

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Malone recalls the situation this way: “He was like, ‘I can’t believe you’re taking me off!’ Because he’s 6-foot-10, he’s a good defender, he’s a good rebounder, and he’s been playing for us lately. Played a lot of closing games. He was confident, driven and had a huge impact on the team.”

MPJ is a daily reminder to be grateful. He kept reminding himself in his heart: never be satisfied, keep working hard, never give up, and keep reflecting.

“To be back on the court and be competitive in the playoffs, oh, it feels so good! Especially after thinking about everything I’ve been through,” MPJ said.

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[Special editor Yang Zonghan/Responsible editor Xie Yiqian]

This article is compiled for reference:Once a risky pick, Michael Porter Jr. turns in big rewards for Nuggets

2023-06-10 08:47:57

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