The Denver Nuggets entered this season optimistic. It has taken less than 20 games to eliminate that cheery outlook as an already injury-riddled season has gone from bad to worse with the news of Michael Porter Jr.‘s back.
It was already concerning when considering his injury history but Denver Nuggets’ worst nightmares were confirmed on Monday as the scoring wing could be out for the entire season per Mike Singer, The Denver Post.
Porter Jr. is currently getting a second opinion on his back (maybe he can get a second opinion on his vaccine hesitancy as well) but if it does require surgery, he will definitely be out for the rest of the 2021-22 season.
The rest of the roster has had to step up and while Jokic is still having an MVP-worthy season (on both ends of the court) but it’s near impossible to win games without any legitimate scoring help.
Last season’s Aaron Gordon trade was one of the best moves across the association because it brought an underqualified scoring option into a team that would maximize his strengths. He isn’t supposed to be one of the go-to scoring options on a team, but here he is.
Signing Jeff Green to a two-year deal this past offseason gave Denver some rare defensive versatility and a seasoned veteran as the young team makes a push towards the Larry O’Brien trophy. Against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, he took 16 shots, hardly a low-usage defensive role player.
Will Barton has gone from luxury wing scorer who can play with or without the starters to necessity. Unfortunately, being pushed to the front of scoring line means he’s also pushed to the front of defense’s minds and he has struggled to make an elite impact with the stars out.
If Michael Porter Jr. is out for the rest of the season, someone’s going to have to pick up the slack and it’s not easy to find an efficient 19 points per game lying around in the NBA. So where can Michael Malone look to replace MPJ’s value?