NBA analyst rips into Nuggets star with unflattering mock award

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers
Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers / Harry How/GettyImages

Renowned sports media members and current podcasters for the Ringer, Bill Simmons and Ryen Rusillo do a weekly NBA pod every Sunday night. On the most recent episode, the two went through a long list of made-up NBA awards for the 2023-24 season complete with nominees and winners.

Some of the awards were fairly self-explanatory and predictable, like an award for the worst coach in the league this season and a ‘League Pass Award’ for the most exciting player to tune in for on a nightly basis.

The biggest black hole in the NBA

One award of note was the ‘Freeman Williams Award for biggest black hole’. Simmons, who came up with the awards, explained that the award was named for Williams, a reserve for the Clippers who played in the late 70s and early 80s and had a propensity to get up a lot of shots in limited minutes.

The idea behind it was to award a player who shoots a lot but doesn’t pass or rack up many assists. Simmons chose Cam Thomas of the Nets, a gunner in the backcourt who can score points in a hurry, but doesn’t offer much else.

Rusillo picks Michael Porter Jr.

But Rusillo chose a member of the Nuggets, Michael Porter Jr. as his winner. He opined that Thomas has been a better passer recently and has upped his assist rate. Rusillo then pointed out that MPJ has a career assist rate of 6.3% and just 6.7% this season.

He went on to talk about how other young wing scorers started off in a similar mold as Porter Jr. but were able to expand on their passing games as they grew, specifically mentioning the growth of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum for the Celtics. But he went on to say that he doesn’t think MPJ will ever get there at this point.

It’s an obnoxious but fair critique from the national media. Porter Jr. is putting up 16.9 points on 13.3 field goal attempts per game this season, but dishes out just 1.5 assists per night despite a 20.9% usage rate.

It would be nice if MPJ was a better passer, but the truth is the Nuggets don’t need that from him in the playoffs. They have plenty of playmaking from Jokic and Murray; they just need Porter Jr. to knock down his open shots, pull down rebounds, and defend competently and they’ll be just fine.