Michael Porter Jr. agreed to sign a five-year rookie-scale max extension with the Denver Nuggets this past September. The deal is a guaranteed $145.3 million and can be worth up to $172 million with incentives.
During the 2020-2021 season, MPJ averaged 19 points, 7.3 rebounds, and shot 45 percent from the 3-point line. The young forward from Missouri had a good and efficient year for Denver, helping them reach the Western Conference semifinals.
Turning the page to this year, MPJ fans were going into this 2021-2022 season with even higher hopes and expectations. Unfortunately for them, those hopes and dreams would be crushed after a season-ending injury was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN.
The Denver Nuggets followed days later by announcing that MPJ’s surgery operation was complete.
Dr. Andrew Dossett did the surgery at the Carrell Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Dossett was the previous doctor who had performed surgery on MPJ’s back in the past.
For Nuggets fans, this can be seen as a massive roadblock in the future to compete for an NBA championship. MPJ was assumed to be an ideal puzzle piece to the trio of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. With Murray already recovering from an ACL surgery, the future is up in the air. There is no timetable for MPJ as he is out indefinitely.
Is it time to worry in Denver or is it best to remain patient?
It depends on how MPJ can recover from this injury. We saw back in college when he attempted to play after his first back surgery that his performance was below average. It took him about three-to-four years to look normal again.
He grew into his own during the NBA bubble when we saw MPJ take the next step in his game. The Denver Nuggets reached the Western Conference Finals and took on the (soon to be champion) Los Angeles Lakers.
Although they lost in the series, Denver fans saw a bright light in their future with the young trio going so far.
If MPJ can return to his usual self after his recovery process, then it’s just a pause button for the Denver Nuggets. If he can’t recover at a fast enough rate, Denver’s window might be smaller than we think.
Reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic, is in the prime of his career currently. He looks as if he can’t be touched on the court at times and has taken a significant leadership role in the organization. With MPJ out, it may not affect Jokic as much in the regular season, but MPJ’s shooting ability and size will be highly missed for the Denver Nuggets when it comes to the playoffs. Jokic can do a lot, but it remains to be seen what he can do in the playoffs without his talented teammate.
Thankfully for Denver Nuggets fans, the team’s social media has posted from time to time about Jamal’s recovery. We have seen him dunk in practice and hit the weight room especially hard. Hopefully, Jamal can make it back in time this season for the playoffs. If not, Nikola Jokic has a tall task ahead of him during any upcoming postseason run.
To answer the question of whether Nuggets fans should be worried–ultimately, no. With the high-tech recovery options in today’s sports, these young studs should eventually be back for their squad. Until then, climb on the Jokic train; it’s going to be quite the ride.