The Denver Nuggets may have another new dynamic duo on their hands in Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic.
After the Denver Nuggets took down the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime, everyone was justifiably raving about rookie Michael Porter Jr. and star center Nikola Jokic. The duo combined for 67 points and 24 rebounds, with Porter also going 4-6 from 3-point range and Joker dishing out 10 assists. In short, they were a dazzling display of what the new era of NBA big men will bring to the game.
For the Nuggets, they also got a glimpse of what the future can be like in Denver once MPJ hits his stride. With his length, standing at 6’10” and boasting a 7’0″ wingspan, there aren’t many players that can effect his ability to score from the perimeter or inside. When he plays with the intensity and focus that he had against the Thunder, and on both ends, he’s nothing less than a force to be reckoned with.
Should Porter capture that lightning in a bottle and tighten his handle over the next few seasons, he has all the potential to be a star player.
However, it’s impossible to discuss MPJ’s game against Oklahoma City without discussing his chemistry with Jokic. Joker found Porter cutting to the basket for Denver’s first point of the game and four more times after that. If you’re doing the math at home that means that of Jokic’s 10 assists, half of them went to MPJ.
That type of chemistry between big men, both of whom can play on the perimeter or inside and have a high-low game, isn’t to be underestimated. Especially with Jokic’s slimmer frame allowing him to beat players with speed and footwork more than bulk.
Now that doesn’t mean that this goes both ways, as Porter has never been known as a great facilitator. It’s possible that one day he adds that to his bag of tricks but as of now, Jokic’s best chance to receive an assist from another big man is more likely to come from Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee or Bol Bol.
However, Porter’s lithe movements, along with size, strength and shooting touch, separate him from any of the aforementioned big men. Millsap has the shooting touch and won’t get pushed around inside but he’s not the most agile frontcourt player you’ll find. Plumlee’s speed is deceptive but he doesn’t have the shooting touch that make him a perimeter threat. Bol simply lacks the strength.
That’s what makes him and Jokic such a dynamic duo. Teams will have to decide whether they want to deal with Porter outside or Jokic inside. Or whether they would prefer to try to contain Porter inside and allow Jokic to be a facilitator and shooter on the outside. With the right players and spacing around them, guys who can defend and knock down 3-point shots, they’re going to be tough to handle.
In fact, the team should explore the idea of starting Porter even when Will Barton comes back.