After missing the entirety of the 2018-19 season while recovering from two back surgeries, the No. 14 overall pick in the 2018 draft Michael Porter Jr. is itching to get back onto the court.
The Denver Nuggets rookie is expected to make his debut in the NBA Summer League in July. When he does make his debut, Porter believes what players, fans and the Denver front office will be seeing is better than that of the one drafted.
Speaking to the Denver Post, Porter said, “To be honest, going into the season, I didn’t really expect myself to be able to play at 100 percent if I was to come play.”
He added, “But like, the way I feel now, it’s leaps and bounds beyond where I thought I’d be at this point. I feel so good. … I feel like I’m a better player than I’ve ever been.”
Porter developed drop foot after surgeries
While enrolled at Missouri, Porter underwent a microdiscectomy procedure and after the draft underwent a separate procedure on his lumbar.
The resulting surgeries caused Porter to develop drop foot, according to the report. The development slimmed an already slim chance of Porter playing this past season.
When he plays in the Summer League he will wear a knee brace to stabilize his leg.
Being on the bench ‘Huge advantage’ for Porter
Porter has not played competitive basketball since March 2018 when he was still at Missouri. He has, however, participated in three-on-three drills while traveling with the Nuggets.
Still, simply being with the team has proven to be beneficial according to Porter.
“Just being on the bench, watching them play, seeing where I’m going to get my shots in the offense, and just learning the NBA game,” Porter said. “It’s a lot different than college, spacing and everything.”
The work he’s put in during the season and soon in the offseason has his teammates taking notice.
“To be honest, I am [very excited to see him play] because he is talking a lot,” Nuggets’ star forward Nikola Jokic said. “Just how he’s working out and playing with guys, you can see he has a gift.”
Should he return healthy, the arrival of Porter will be a huge get for the Nuggets. The team finished the 2018-19 season with a 54-28 record, good for second in the Western Conference and just three games back from the first-place Golden State Warriors.
Playing as one of the youngest teams in NBA playoff history, the Nuggets beat the San Antonio Spurs in seven games before falling to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference semifinals, also in seven games.
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