Perhaps no player has taken a more impressive leap this summer than Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., who has taken on an increased role due to injuries to Jamal Murray, Will Barton, and Gary Harris. After averaging a modest 7.5 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 49 games (14.2 MPG) prior to the March stoppage, Porter has exploded for 26.3 PPG and 10.0 RPG in four games (34.7 MPG) during the restart.
Porter’s scorching-hot shooting line (.578/.500/.941) is unsustainable, and his numbers figure to dip a little if and when Murray, Barton, and Harris are all healthy. Still, in the span of a week, MPJ has gone from promising young prospect to franchise cornerstone.
Porter is one of nine players highlighted by ESPN’s writers in an article focusing on several of the summer’s up-and-coming breakout players.
Second-year swingman Gary Trent Jr. is another unsurpising inclusion on ESPN’s list. Trent is still coming off the bench for the Trail Blazers, but he’s playing 32.9 minutes per contest so far in Orlando and is shooting the lights out from beyond the arc, knocking down 22-of-35 three-point attempts (62.9%) through four games.
Grizzlies shooting guard Grayson Allen, who had played limited minutes in his first two NBA seasons and was sidelined with a hip injury prior to the hiatus, has played the best basketball of his professional career at Walt Disney world, averaging 14.3 PPG on .606/.667/.750 shooting entering today’s game.
A pair of Spurs also show up on ESPN’s list. Derrick White has taken his game to another level in Orlando, racking up 24 points in today’s win after averaging 21.3 PPG and 5.5 APG with a .455 3PT% in his first four games. Rookie forward Keldon Johnson, who played in just nine games earlier this season, has been one of San Antonio’s most-used bench players, with 13.0 PPG and 5.3 RPG entering today’s game.
Now that we’re halfway through the summer’s seeding games, we want to get your input. Which young players have impressed you the most in Orlando so far?
ESPN’s list focuses on up-and-comers, but have you been pleasantly surprised by what you’ve seen from certain veterans as well, such as Pacers forward T.J. Warren? Are you skeptical of small-sample sizes in some cases, or are you ready to declare that certain players have taken noticeable steps forward?
Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!