Back in the 2020-21 season, Michael Porter Jr. looked like a bonafide offensive star for the Denver Nuggets. He averaged career-bests across the board, and he appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough into All-Star status. But then Porter suffered a long-term injury in 2021, and he had to figure out ways to contribute for the Nuggets beyond scoring after finding himself down the pecking order in the offense upon his return.

While Porter's game isn't perfect by any means, it's clear to Nuggets fan that the 6'10 forward is fleshing out his game beyond his innate ability to put the ball through the hoop. And head coach Michael Malone acknowledged Porter's development in the other facets of the game following the Nuggets' impressive 119-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers to start their title defense.

“I was so proud of Michael Porter Jr…his rebounding was spectacular. We don’t sign specialists around here,” Malone said, per Ryan Blackburn of Mile High Sports. The Nuggets head coach also praised Porter's resiliency to keep up his effort on the defensive end even though he had a less-than-ideal shooting night. (He went 5-13 for 12 points, although he did add 12 rebounds and two steals.)

Two knocks on Michael Porter Jr. have been his shot-selection, as well as the “me-first” mentality many believe he has when he's on the court. However, Porter is quickly shedding that mostly unfounded reputation of his, even though the comments Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth made in recent times won't help matters at all in that regard.

Michael Malone and the Nuggets have placed an emphasis on unselfish basketball, taking after the identity of their best player Nikola Jokic, and Porter has done more than enough to buy in. After all, a player does not average 27 minutes per game in the NBA Finals without helping out in other areas of the game beyond scoring. And at 6'10 with a 7'0 wingspan, all Porter needs to be a bit of a disruptive presence on defense is effort, and he's now pouring his heart out on that end of the floor for a team that needs his presence on the wing.

Only 25 years old, the sky is the limit for the burgeoning two-way iteration of Michael Porter Jr.