Denver Nuggets: How Michael Porter Jr.’s looming return could affect the rotation

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With Jamal Murray already out for most of the Denver Nuggets 2021-22 regular season, the loss of Michael Porter Jr. in early November to a back injury seemed to signal that this might very well be a lost campaign.

Nikola Jokic said, not so fast! The Big Honey has put together another MVP-caliber year and has kept his squad on pace to crack the over on their pre-season win total as we predicted.

If the Nuggets were wallowing in the play-in spots or out of the tournament altogether, one would have to think that MPJ would have simply sat out the rest of this campaign, but with the Nuggets all but assured a top four or five seed thanks to the Joker’s preposterously consistent excellence, reports have begun coming in of Porter Jr.’s impending return to the Nuggets lineup.

MPJ wasn’t exactly lighting it up before he played his last game back in November, and the 23-year-old has been no stranger to severe back issues before. There is definitely an argument to be made that he shouldn’t come back this season, instead focus on getting that back right and returning next year fully healthy so he can contribute like he did at the tail end of the 2020-2021 season.

But it’s all but confirmed that MPJ will indeed return to the Nuggets sooner rather than later this season, as Harrison Wind, DNVR reported last week that the 6’10” forward will be sent to start scrimmaging with the Nuggets’ G-League affiliate, the Gold, up in Grand Rapids.

Considering his worrisome history with back issues, the Nuggets are likely to bring him on slowly so that he’s ready for a full workload by the time the postseason rolls around, something that Jamal Murray could be ready for by that time too, according to Sam Amick, The Athletic.

Denver can use all the help they can get, especially with the team in the thick of the playoff race in what feels like the most open competition for the top spots that we’ve seen in some time.

In the 56 games since MPJ last took to the court, the Nuggets have been one of the better teams in the West as others have stepped up to fill the void around Jokic. With MPJ looking like he’ll be suiting up for the Nuggets by the start of April at the latest, let’s take a quick look at how the others in the rotation will be affected when the Mizzou product does make his return.

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