Don’t bury the Denver Nuggets yet.
It may be easy to look at the Nuggets after the Jamal Murray injury and say they don’t have a chance to compete in the Western Conference playoffs. But when you look below the surface, you could see a team that still has a chance to make a run and challenge teams like Utah, Phoenix, and the Lakers.
The main reason for that could be Michael Porter Jr. The talented wing had a career-high 38 points last night with 8 threes against Houston and has been hooping in his last few games.
Since the Murray injury, Porter has been giving you 24.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. Denver is 5-1 in that span and looks like they could make some moves in the West behind Porter’s emergence as a primary scorer. While it always hurts to lose an All-Star level player like Murray, his absence has opened the door for Porter to be even more aggressive.
Seeing Porter put up these numbers is not surprising. If not for a back injury he suffered at Mizzou, he would likely have been a top-five pick in the 2018 draft. At 6-10 with his shooting ability and guard-like skills, he will always be a potential matchup problem for any team the Nuggets play against.
The key for Porter has always been putting it together consistently and becoming a better all-around defender. The 1.5 blocks per game over this span seem to be signs pointing to Porter finally starting to get it.
Porter is averaging 18.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game this season. The Nuggets are currently in the fourth spot in the West and other top-level teams have been struggling with injuries. If Porter can continue his tear and prove he is consistent, the Nuggets will have a real shot at the NBA Finals.