Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. knows he needs to step up next season, especially with Jamal Murray's status still unclear as he recovers from injury.

To recall, Murray suffered from a torn ACL in his left knee last April, effectively ending his 2020-21 season with the Nuggets. He underwent a successful surgery days later, but Denver didn't give a specific timeline in his return and the team listed him as out indefinitely.

A typical recovery for a torn ACL usually lasts seven to nine months. But as Mayo Clinic noted, it may take eight to 12 months for athletes to be able to return to their respective sports. Considering that timeline, Murray is more than likely to miss a huge chunk of the season–if not all, depending on the progress of his rehab and if he doesn't suffer any setback.

Porter himself acknowledged that Murray will not be with the Nuggets for the most part of the campaign, which is why he needs to step up not just as a player but also as a vocal leader.

“We’re gonna be without Jamal [Murray] for a lot of this season, so I’m gonna be looked to as more of a leader on that team,” Porter told ClutchPoints in an exclusive interview last week. “I gotta be more vocal, so that’s one big thing I got to be better at.

“I think that I just got to be locked in every night and help lead my team on and off the court. Obviously put up points, grab rebounds, be more of a playmaker out there. That’s a few things I got to be better.”

Michael Porter Jr. looking to take major leap

Michael Porter Jr., Nuggets

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The 23-year-old forward took a big step in 2020-21 as head coach Michael Malone gave him a more significant role in the rotation. As he cracked the team's starting unit, MPJ increased his averages to 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game on 54.2 percent overall shooting (including 44.5 percent from deep).

Knowing that the Nuggets will be relying on him more, Porter is now looking to make the same jump he did last season–or even higher.

“Last season was definitely a big step for me. Played pretty well. Took leaps on a lot of areas. I’m looking to make a similar leap this year,” the former Mizzou standout shared.

This is also the reason why Porter has been working hard this offseason to improve the weak areas of his game. Aside from his defense, his conditioning and playmaking have been a focus in his workouts.

“This offseason has been a grind. Just trying to get better on the little things in my game, ballhandling has been an area of emphasis; getting stronger is an area of emphasis,” the Nuggets youngster added.

“I just got good people around me. I’ve been bringing the chef around with me, bringing my basketball trainer, my strength coach. We’ve kinda been going around in places, just trying to get better.”

Porter has been vocal about his desire to make the All-Star team and help lead the Nuggets to the NBA title in the upcoming season, but he sure understands that he must perform–and perform at a high level consistency–to achieve that.