Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. hoping to regain prominence in rookie season
Michael Porter Jr. missed his entire first season with a back injury that would delay his debut as an NBA rookie for a full calendar year. While he was slated to appear in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League, the 14th overall selection had his debut delayed yet again with a recent minor setback, forcing Denver Nuggets fans and the rest of the NBA to wait a few more months before getting a first peek at his abilities.
Much like Zion Williamson, Porter was a prominent name in the high school scene and a likely top-two pick even before he picked Missouri as his school of choice. Now he’s looking to show that promise more than a year after he slid down the board and almost out of the lottery on draft night.
“Zion is that dude, man,” Porter told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated recently. “No one really has seen a player like him at his size that can do the things that he can do. But I got a little bag of my own, so I’m hoping to open up the people’s eyes to what I could do. And I think all that other stuff will take care of itself. …
“I can be as good as God wants me to be if my body holds up like I know it will and I work how I know I will. I want to be one of the best players to ever play. And it was crazy, going through what I’ve gone through. But that’s my goal.”
Porter, who played under former NBA great Brandon Roy at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, knows the level of scrutiny that will come at this level. Porter noted he had been playing through back pain for a good part of his high school career.
“I got to see what it is like being at the very top,” Porter said. “Of course it was high school, so it was a little different, but I was the No. 1 player in the country. Everybody was talking about me being this and that.”
Porter was dominating until the back pain worsened.
“I had been ongoing with some normal back pain throughout sophomore year,” Porter said. “Going into junior year is when I first fell on my back. It hurt, but I tried to play the next day, and it was just sore. And it stayed sore for a while because there was a lot of compensation going on, and my body hurt. But I just kept playing.
“I kept playing through junior year, through senior year of high school, just with some nagging back pain. Always tried to go to different chiropractors, always tried to go to different therapists, to help me get it better.”
Now a year removed from those woes, the hope is that the Nuggets get an overload of riches, after making a sizable jump in the Western Conference and threatening to reach the conference finals.