Michael Porter Jr., Nuggets teammates react to his preseason debut
Rookie Michael Porter Jr. turned several heads during a preseason debut against the Portland Trail Blazers, a team the Denver Nuggets will be wrestling for position during a fierce Western Conference race in the regular season. Porter didn’t have a flashy showing during his 17 minutes on the floor, but showed poise and confidence, scoring nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, along with three rebounds during his first run of the season.
“It was all fun and games, like I know a few of those dudes,” said Porter, who heard a bit of back-and-forth during his stint on the floor, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I think somebody said something.”
Head coach Mike Malone was impressed with his performance, but noted there’s also progress he should make as a defender.
“He’s very gifted offensively,” said Malone. “I’ll watch the film, but my biggest takeaway is that he’s gotta give the defensive end just as much attention to detail as he does the offensive end. He’s a gifted scorer. He can take and make big, big shots and tough shots, but he’s gotta be locked in on the defensive end.”
Porter’s teammates were enthusiastic about his return after missing his entire would-be rookie season with a second back surgery.
“He’s meant to play basketball, he’s meant to do this and God’s got him,” said Monte Morris, who’s been mentoring Porter. “Just go out there and do what you’ve been doing all your life.
“People don’t really know how good he really this. This is him with injuries, and he’s still phenomenal. I’d hate to have seen him two, three years ago when there wasn’t no injuries.”
The 6-foot-10 Porter will have a shot to even break into the starting lineup if he starts to impress, which could force the hand of coach Malone if it means it’ll add a new dynamic to a team loaded with firepower.