Michael Porter Jr. is remarkably similar to former Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari.
The Denver Nuggets are one of the few teams that properly utilize one of the best pure scorers on their team. In this case, Michael Porter Jr., a 6’10” combo forward who just completed his rookie season.
Porter’s offensive capabilities are such that, at the very least, he could have been an extremely valuable three-point shooter for Denver’s starting lineup. A role that players like Duncan Robinson, Danilo Gallinari, and Kristaps Porzingis have all played for their teams this season and that many others have played before them.
Each of these players managed to average at least 13.5 points per game despite there being at least three players averaging at least 15 points per game in their starting lineup.
Now, Robinson is almost exclusively a three-point shooter, with 88.2% of his shot attempts coming from behind the line. Porzingis and Gallinari are far more balanced, with 43.2% and 53.7% of their shot attempts coming from three respectively.
For comparison, 54.3% of Porter’s shot attempts came from three-point range this postseason.
Porter is closer to Gallinari as a player than Porzingis stylistically, statistically and physically (as they’re both 6’10” combo forwards). That said, taking a closer look at the team that the former Nugget currently plays on is an interesting thought exercise.
As you can see, the season averages for Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have a bit of similarity to the averages for Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray (respectively) in the 2019-20 regular season.
With Will Barton’s impending return to the starting lineup, Jerami Grant’s potential return this offseason and Murray’s growth as a scorer, it’s too simplistic to say that Porter can average the type of numbers that Gallinari does if he gets the same amount of scoring opportunities.
However, it’s interesting to note that almost half (49.4%) of Gallo’s 2-pointers were assisted and that 86.0% of his 3-pointers were. In the postseason, 59.1% of Porter’s 2-point shots were assisted and 85.3% of his 3-point shots were.
This points to Porter needing to generate a few more unassisted 2-pointers. With his skillset, he should get those points from a combination of off-the-dribble, dribble handoff and post-up attempts.
Again, Barton’s return, Murray’s growth and the team’s desire to re-sign Grant may prevent Porter from getting a chance to make the type of impact offensively that Gallinari made in Oklahoma City this past season. Nonetheless, it can be done with the right amount of opportunity.
Looking at the defensive end, there’s reason for Porter to model his game after Gallinari’s as well. Gallinari has never been the most impressive athlete and that’s true for MPJ as well, who has shown himself to have better explosion moving vertically than laterally.
Yet, that lack of athleticism doesn’t prevent Gallinari from being a respectable defender, as his wealth of experience aids him in his awareness. Gallinari is also one of the loudest communicators on the court, which is key for a functional team defense.
Oftentimes, Porter was too late to react on-ball or off-ball, which is where both awareness and communication can remedy his issues. For Porter, that means that studying as much film as possible — either with Denver’s coaching staff or his father — in the offseason and moving forward.
Nine years after Gallinari arrived in Denver in a package that the New York Knicks gave up to acquire Carmelo Anthony, Porter is almost a reincarnation of the former lottery pick. The biggest difference as of now is that the Nuggets already have twice as many playoff wins with Porter as they had with Gallo.