Denver Nuggets: The next step for Michael Porter Jr. as a dependable player in Malone’s rotation

The Denver Nuggets must take a deeper look at Michael Porter Jr. following his career-performance over the Indiana Pacers.

Considering the NBA Michael Porter Jr. deemed an afterthought in light of his draft position, the Denver Nuggets found its diamond in the dirt. Yes, the back injury warranted worry, but his skills are undeniable.

Keep your eye on the Nuggets 2018-2019 redshirt freshman; changes seem imminent with trade season among us. Porter Jr, now an untouchable piece in the Denver Nuggets current timetable.

Jerami Grant, although once considered a positive addition this past summer, hasn’t greatly influenced the Nuggets underperforming bench, and advanced stats support that claim. However, the forward boasts a 39 field-goal percentage on three attempts per game.

The jumpy forward leads the bench in minutes, which makes it a hard case for Porter Jr. to overtake the five-year veteran as the team’s sixth-man option. Nonetheless, the potential glowing in Porter Jr. supersedes the final product of Grant.

Potential trades open up minutes for Michael Porter Jr.

As earlier alluded, the Nuggets reportedly categorize as players in the trade season.

Between the failed contract extension negotiations with backup guard Malik Beasley and constant references of Denver’s participation in the trade market, a move is on the horizon.

Ultimately, something has to give in the second-unit rotation as Porter Jr. and Grant have a brief history of coexisting in a few lineups.

The best lineup featuring the two backup forwards appeared in 51 possesions, per Cleaning the Glass. Of course, the lineup consists of three starters: Jamal Murray, Will Barton, and Nikola Jokic.

Denver’s bench, in theory, has a talented bench. However, the counting and advanced stats don’t correlate with the potential of the youthful bench unit. Perhaps, it’s a case of being too close to the problem. Ultimately, the starting lineup requires some form of alleviation.

Monte Morris and Malik Beasley show promise, and Mason Plumlee‘s reputable position in the league are solidified. The backup center’s burst of energy, in addition to adequate passing, makes for a nice change of pace.

Regardless of the “well, actually, he is a good player” retorts triggered by NBA.com/stats bench categories, the Nuggets can’t afford to go all-in on potential alone.

With that said, Michael Porter Jr.’s time to push for his role change is upon us. Mike Malone’s continuous ringing endorsements of his sophomore wing don’t fall on deaf ears.

Mike Malone after Porter Jr’s first NBA start:

“I didn’t expect those numbers, but I knew that if he was given minutes and a chance, he’s just too talented and the game comes too easy for him, especially offensively.

When the chips are down

Porter Jr, deemed a wing by Cleaning the Glass, deserves more time with the starters. Now, of course, Malone giving the 21-year-old sophomore the world early in his career isn’t exactly the move.

However, subtly inserting Porter Jr. in clutch situations gives Denver a versatile dynamic with the game in the balance. For skeptics of Porter’s dependability, the only cure for inexperience is obtaining experience.

Currently, Michael Porter Jr. has a grand total of a one-minute clutch experience. Considering Porter Jr’s surge ignited in the past few weeks, the low number isn’t a surprise. Expect for MPJ to make an appearance in a closing lineup soon.

Malone, if truly a believer in Porter Jr, must risk a regular-season game in the middle of January. While losing a game to a team such as the Charlotte Hornets is a souring thought, the valuable progression in the young wing’s maturation as a trustworthy option is worth the 10-cent gamble.

Slow down to speed up

No matter the sky-high potential of Michael Porter Jr., coach Malone has a responsibility to lead his team deep into the playoffs, regardless of whether or not his 21-year-old offensive savior finishes the season as a starter or a bonafide sixth-man.

It’s easy to get caught up in a few great showings, especially considering the emotional toll of the injury-plagued Porter Jr. put the Denver Nuggets through last season. However, keeping hope at a safe distance, remember, Porter Jr.’s situation is a tad bit bubble-wrapped.

The three-point shooting, rim-rocking wing, belongs on a deep roster, which thankfully isn’t deprived of playmakers. So, if coach Malone decides to only give Porter Jr. the keys on the weekends, it’s for a great cause.

Although seeing Porter Jr thrown into every big-time situation sounds entertaining, it’s plausible the coaching staff is taking care of an essential piece to the puzzle.

Protection through a careful diet digested by a straw, rather than throwing a buffet-load of possesions at the potential Nuggets’ star, seems like a legitimate blueprint to success.

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