Michael Porter Jr. entered the league with some major red flags surrounding his health. He fell to the Denver Nuggets with the 14th pick in the 2018 NBA draft because other teams didn’t want to take on the injury risk.
After missing the entirety of his rookie season with a back injury, he burst onto the scene as one of the league’s most prolific scoring wings.
Down the end of the 2020-21 season, following the Jamal Murray ACL injury, Michael Porter Jr. averaged 22.8 points a night while hitting 55 percent from the floor, 45 percent from 3-point range, and 86 percent from the free throw line. He took on the role as the second option behind Nikola Jokic and excelled.
Michael Porter Jr. injury updates
Michael Porter Jr. was seen dunking in pre-game warm-ups as reports say he’s nearing a possible return during the 2021-22 season.
The videos come after Zach Lowe, ESPN reported that MPJ could return at some point this season:
"“There is a chance both Murray and Porter could return this season, sources say. It may take until next season for them to achieve peak form, but once they do, the Nuggets have all the markings of a title contender.”"
The Denver Nuggets were granted a disabled player exception (DPE) before the trade deadline according to Shams Charania, The Athletic. Receiving a DPE usually implies that it’s more likely than not that the player will return in that season.
The DPE is worth $2.7 million.
Michael Porter Jr. undergoes surgery on his back, November 2021
Michael Porter Jr. will undergo a surgical procedure on his back according to Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN. He will miss an indefinite amount of time but will likely be out for the entirety of the 2021-22 NBA season.
Since injuring his back on 6 Nov. 2021, Porter had been looking for non-surgical solutions but surgery was the only answer.
At 23-years-old, it’s the second time MPJ will be having surgery on his back as he missed his entire rookie season for the same reason.
This is the first season of MPJ’s new five-year, $172 million max rookie extension he signed in the 2021 offseason.
Michael Porter Jr. misses time after re-aggravating back injury, November 2021
Michael Porter Jr. is dealing with a nerve issue in his back that could jeopardize his entire 2021-22 season according to Mike Singer, The Denver Post.
Before confirming the nerve issue, MPJ was ruled out indefinitely following a missed layup against the Houston Rockets. At the time, it didn’t look like much, just a case of things going from bad to worse as the former Missouri player had been struggling thus far.
Head coach Michael Malone told media after the game:
"“[Michael Porter Jr.’s injury is] an ongoing thing, trying to figure out what’s going on…I’d still say that Michael’s out for the foreseeable future. We’re trying to take it one day at a time with him and see what the best way to approach getting him back healthy is.”"
Is this a case of preparing Denver Nuggets fans for the worst? Saying MPJ could be out for the entire season before he returns at the end of the season?
After an extremely quick Google about nerve damage in backs (yes, it’s just a Google, take it with a grain of salt), the expected recovery time is around 12 weeks. That’s before factoring in that MPJ is a professional athlete and recovery time might be different given the needs of his sport.
Following a maximum contract extension with $145 million guaranteed, it’s a rough start for the Denver Nuggets and Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. enters the health & safety protocols, 2021
In late 2020, right after the NBA restarted its COVID-19-shortened season, players were missing extended periods of time due to contracting or being close contacts of COVID-19.
Michael Porter Jr. entered the protocols on 29 Dec. 2020 and returned to play on 22 Jan. 2021 in a win against the Phoenix Suns. He only played 19 minutes in the four-point win but wasn’t on a minutes restriction.
At the start of the 2020-2021 season, the NBA had not introduced a vaccine mandate and it was common for players to miss multiple games when identified as a positive case or close contact.
During training camp before the 2021-2022 NBA season, MPJ told The Denver Post that he “doesn’t feel comfortable” taking the vaccine.
"“My stance on the mandate is it definitely shouldn’t be a mandate. It should be everyone’s decision. I see it both ways. If you want to get it because you feel more protected and you feel safer, and it’s protecting people around you, get it. That’s good for you. But if you feel like, ‘Oh, for me, I don’t feel safe getting it, then don’t get it.’”"
His stance on the vaccine had not affected his ability to play through the first nine games.
Michael Porter Jr. misses entire rookie season with injury, 2018
After falling to the Denver Nuggets and the 14th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Michael Porter Jr. didn’t play for his entire rookie season.
He was considered a “medical redshirt” and it was consecutive back surgeries that saw the talented forward fall to the 14th pick in the first place. Porter had a microdiscectomy of his L3-L4 spinal disks in November 2017 and then a second spinal surgery in July 2018.
While some teams avoided drafting Porter Jr., the Denver Nuggets had already built a solid young core and were willing to forgo the wing’s rookie season, playing the long game.
Early on after getting drafted, MPJ was hopeful that he could play in his rookie season but it wasn’t to be. He told Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com that he was “pain-free” and was “getting better every day”. Regardless, Tim Connelly and the Nuggets front office kept him sidelined and it worked, resulting in mostly healthy seasons for the years following.
Michael Porter Jr. went on J.J. Redick’s Old Man & The Three podcast and said some LA Clippers doctors said he’d probably never play a game of basketball again. It was this diagnosis from most team doctors that saw him fall from a top-three prospect in 2018 to end of the lottery.