Full health for Michael Porter Jr.
Following a 14-game absence with a heel strain that kept him sidelined since Nov. 22, Michael Porter Jr. finally returned to action last night against the Portland Trailblazers.
A long stretch of full health for MPJ could serve as the most satisfying Christmas gift of all for Nuggets fans. After all, fans have had to endure the injury woes of Porter ever since Denver drafted the talented wing in 2018.
The versatile scorer started this season on fire from beyond the arc, nailing 42.7 percent of his treys through 16 games before the heel injury halted his momentum.
Since he entered the league, MPJ has missed more games for Denver than he has played, so If he can stay healthy, Porter Jr. will help Denver in more ways than one.
Aside from the obvious scoring boost he can provide with his 16.4 points per game, MPJ also impacts the Nuggets on the other side of the ball. Despite his early history of struggles as an isolation defender, MPJ has actually contributed to the Nuggets defense in a big way this season.
While Bruce Brown has filled in valiantly during Porter Jr.’s absence, the starting five has taken a defensive hit with Brown in the unit. In 11 games together, the original starting unit of Jokic-Murray-Gordon-MPJ-Caldwell-Pope has recorded an impressive 101.7 defensive rating, as opposed to a 112.2 rating when Brown replaces MPJ. The starting five with MPJ excels on offense as well, posting a fantastic 18.5 net rating.
In order for the Nuggets to eventually reach their peak as a championship-caliber team, they will need the talent of MPJ present and healthy, which, based on early indicators, could come as soon as this spring.
The gift of a fully healthy Michael Porter Jr. could go a long way in securing the greatest gift of all: a first-ever championship for the Denver Nuggets.