Michael Porter Jr.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Okogie, Green, Thunder

In a piece chronicling the first NBA game for Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Nick Kosmider of The Athletic explains how Porter’s debut ended up being a long time coming after the 21-year-old had to rehab through two back surgeries and miss his entire first season as a professional.

In the team hotel the night before Porter’s debut, Tim Connelly, Denver’s president of basketball operations, encouraged Porter to let each frame of his debut experience sink in, notwithstanding the fact that it was just a preseason game.

“I told him, ‘You should really pat yourself on the back,'” Connelly said. “It’s not easy to do what he’s done. He’s been a guy that, forever, the assumption was that he was going to play in the NBA because he was so talented, but the road has been a little more convoluted and challenging, so I said, ‘Appreciate the moment. You’re officially in the NBA. It wasn’t how you thought it would be three or four years ago, but it’s still special.'”

Teammate Jarred Vanderbilt, who is close with Porter and helped him throughout the rehab process and beforehand, had some good advice for his friend.

“I know how tough it was for him to sit out, like it was for me, but he sat out the whole year,” Vanderbilt said. “It was a lot tougher for him, so it’s just great to see him playing again. I told him, ‘Don’t put any pressure on yourself. Just be happy to be out there.’ That’s how I was. I was just happy to be out there. I know how it feels to be not able to play. To come back and feel all antsy like you have to make the right play and everything, I felt like I was doing that and thinking too much, so I just told him to let the game come. Everything will fall into place.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie, who is entering his second season in the NBA, was able to improve his game this summer by playing in the FIBA World Cup as a member of Team Nigeria, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Specifically, Okogie believes he has gotten better mentally. “My experience was great playing overseas. One reason being, it forced me to think the game.”
  • As Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune notes, we may see some new tricks from Jazz newcomer, veteran forward Jeff Green, as his ever-expanding skill set could prove crucial for the team this coming season.
  • The Thunder rolled out a starting lineup that included Chris PaulShai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder in their latest preseason game, perhaps signaling the team’s plan to use multiple point guard rotations throughout this season. Tim MacMahon of ESPN has the story.

Northwest Notes: Porter Jr., Craig, Culver, O’Neale

Amid the news that the team has picked up his option for the 2020/21 season, forward Michael Porter Jr. is eager to take the court for the first time with the Nuggets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reports. Porter will make his preseason debut against Portland on Tuesday. He missed all of last season with a back injury after being drafted No. 14 overall and didn’t play any summer league games due to a knee injury.

“I feel like I’ve prepared my whole life to be an NBA player,” the Nuggets’ forward said. “It’s crazy because I watch these players growing up and now we’re on the same court. I kind of had to have a mindset change. These are my opponents. I can’t be a fan of these dudes anymore.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Torrey Craig will open the season as the Nuggets’ starting small forward, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic predicts. He’s the best defensive option at that spot and has made improvements to his offensive game. “Torrey shot lights out in September and he’s shot it very well in camp,” coach Michael Malone told Kosmider. “If he shoots it the way he did in the playoffs, he’s going to be a guy who is hard to keep off the floor.” Craig made 47.2% of his three-point attempts in 14 playoff games, compared to his 32.4% showing in the regular season.
  • Lottery pick Jarrett Culver has wasted no time making a strong impression at Timberwolves camp, the team’s play-by-play announcer Alan Horton tweets. Coach Ryan Saunders said Culver has been the early standout in the preseason. “He’s definitely made some plays that make you look around and say wow,” Saunders said. “Now those might be normal plays for someone who’s been in the league, but for a rookie in his first couple of days, it was impressive.”
  • With the departures of Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder, forward Royce O’Neale could play an even bigger role with the Jazz this season, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune reports. O’Neale appeared in every regular-season game last season, averaging 20.4 MPG.  Coach Quin Snyder is experimenting with the 6’6” O’Neale playing power forward in small ball lineups. “[I’m] just trying to be a leader, [trying to] step up, helping out on defense, helping new guys any way I can,” O’Neale said.

Nuggets Exercise 2020/21 Option On Michael Porter Jr.

The Nuggets have picked up the their rookie scale option on forward Michael Porter Jr.‘s contract for the 2020-21 season, Sam Amick of The Athletic tweets.

Porter is due to earn $3.55MM next season after making $3.39MM during the upcoming season.

The decision comes as no surprise, given the patience Denver’s front office has exhibited with Porter, who did not play last season. The No. 14 overall pick in the 2018 draft spent his first pro season recovering and rehabbing from back surgery.

Denver has high hopes that Porter can make a significant contribution this season. However, it remains to be seen how much of an impact he’ll deliver, considering how long it has been since he’s played.

He did not participate in summer league games in July after suffering a left knee sprain. He’s expected to make his preseason debut against Portland on Tuesday.

Nuggets Notes: Bol, Beasley, Porter, Small Forward

Nuggets rookie Bol Bol told reporters at Media Day that he expects to be cleared for five-on-five drills sometime in late October or November, relays Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post. Bol is still recovering from a season-ending foot injury he suffered last year at Oregon. He signed a two-way deal with Denver after being drafted with the 44th pick, but hasn’t been medically cleared to start playing again.

Bol said the team has been “taking it slow” regarding his rehabilitation and no plan has been set for when he might be able to return. He may spend the entire season in the G League, but because the Nuggets don’t have a direct affiliate, his playing time will be determined by another organization.

“It’s kind of like a check-step process,” Bol said of his recovery. “Month by month, you check in to see how I am doing. But I think in the next month or two I’ll be able to (play) five-on-five.”

There’s more from Media Day in Denver:

  • With three weeks left before the deadline for a rookie scale extension, Malik Beasley is focusing on his game and letting newly hired agent Rich Paul take care of negotiations, tweets Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. Beasley, who will be a restricted free agent next summer if no deal is reached, chose Klutch Sports as his representative last week.
  • Michael Porter Jr. remains a mystery after sitting out his rookie year and most of his lone college season with back issues, but he’s ready to start proving he was worth a lottery pick, tweets Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports. Porter said it was tough to skip Summer League again, but he has been focused on preparing for the season. “My time will come eventually,” Porter said. “So I’ll be patient. I’ve been working through this stuff for a couple of years, so what’s another month or so?”
  • Coach Michael Malone promises an “open competition” for the starting spot at small forward, Dempsey tweets.

Community Shootaround: Michael Porter Jr.’s Future With Nuggets

The Nuggets‘ front office believes Michael Porter Jr.‘s rehabilitation process has set him up for a standard role within an NBA rotation, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic writes. The No. 14 overall pick in the 2018 draft missed his entire rookie season while he recovered from back surgery, but is scheduled to make his debut this upcoming season.

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Blake Griffin are among the top players who have missed their rookie season because of injury, Kosmider notes. Simmons and Griffin were each spectacular in their second season in the league, while Embiid took several seasons to fully showcase his ability. Although Embiid’s pitch count seems to get more liberal every year, it’s still a pitch count.

Denver may not ask Porter to play an expanded role right away, as the team has enough depth to compete without major contributions from the Missouri product. Porter’s ceiling can take the Nuggets from very good to great but he must first prove that he can stay on the floor consistently. The team is optimistic that Porter is ready to take that first step.

Do you believe that Porter can help elevate this Nuggets team or is it foolish to count on him for anything at this point in his career? How do you see his career going if he can stay healthy?

Take to the comment section below to share your thoughts. We look forward to what you have to say!

Michael Porter Jr. Unlikely To Play In Summer League Due To Knee Sprain

Nuggets fans excited to see Michael Porter Jr.‘s long-awaited professional debut in Las Vegas Summer League play may have to wait until the fall to last year’s first-round pick take the court.

A league source tells Mike Singer of The Denver Post that Porter suffered a left knee sprain during a scrimmage on Wednesday night and is unlikely to play in Summer League.

As Singer explains, the knee injury isn’t expected to be a long-term issue, but the Nuggets want to play it safe with the young forward, who was selected 14th overall in 2018. After missing all of his rookie season last year while recovering from back surgery, Porter looked “excellent” in recent weeks during five-on-five scrimmages, writes Singer.

It’s an unfortunate development for those of us who were looking to see how Porter looked this month in Las Vegas. Top 2019 draft picks like Ja Morant (Grizzlies) and Darius Garland (Cavaliers) are also considered unlikely to take the court in Vegas as they continue to get healthy.

Western Notes: Porter Jr., Randle, Lakers, Kings

Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. remained extremely active with the team during his rookie season despite missing the entire campaign due to injury, staying vocal on the bench and doing his part in helping the team succeed.

Porter, 20, underwent a second back surgery last summer that ultimately cost him his rookie season. He was selected by Denver with the 14th overall pick in the draft last June.

“To be honest, going into the season, I didn’t really expect myself to be able to play at 100 percent if I was to come play,” Porter said last week, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “But like, the way I feel now, it’s leaps and bounds beyond where I thought I’d be at this point. I feel so good. … I feel like I’m a better player than I’ve ever been.”

Despite not seeing any NBA action yet, Porter has impressed his teammates with his confidence, swagger and character during his rookie season. The next four or five months will be important for him, as Singer notes he’s expected to make his professional debut at the Las Vegas Summer League in July.

“What I’ve seen from Michael this year in flashes, is a guy with tremendous size and length, that’s got deep range, that can shoot the ball, that can put the ball on the floor and has great athleticism to finish at the rim,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “This will be a really big summer for Michael.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News examines whether it’s time for the Mavericks to bring Julius Randle back home in free agency this summer. Randle, who’s expected to decline his $9MM player option to become an unrestricted free agent on June 30, was born in Texas and could fit with the young duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Dallas could also pursue a point guard on the open market, such as Charlotte’s Kemba Walker.
  • The Lakers have hired Judy Seto as director of sports performance, the team announced on Friday. Seto, who served as the team’s head physical therapist from 2011-16, will oversee the medical care and optimize the health and performance of Lakers players while reporting directly to general manager Rob Pelinka.
  • The Kings have expressed interest in Thunder assistant coach Bob Beyer, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Beyer has been an NBA assistant since 2007, making stops with Orlando, Golden State, Charlotte and Detroit before joining Oklahoma City last year. He also served as an assistant with the Raptors during the 2003/04 season.

Northwest Notes: Jokic, MPJ, Exum, Wolves

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who earned All-NBA First Team honors this season, expects to play for Serbia this summer in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and is confident the club can win a medal, as he tells Serbian outlet Tanjug (translation via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Jokic wasn’t on Serbia’s roster for the 2014 World Cup, but he did join the squad for the 2016 Olympics. In both instances, Serbia lost the championship game to Team USA and took home silver medals.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Nuggets are attempting to balance optimism and caution when it comes to 2018 first-rounder Michael Porter Jr., who is expected to make his professional debut in Summer League play this July, writes Alex Labidou of Nuggets.com.
  • Injured Jazz point guard Dante Exum is trying to focus on the positives as he goes through another rehab process, per Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com. “It’s frustrating to go into an offseason injured,” said Exum, who underwent knee surgery in March. “But I’ve thrown a lot of my energy and time into planning what my offseason will look like so I can be the best player I can be coming out of it.”
  • After participating in Houston’s free agent minicamp this week, veteran guard Xavier Munford will attend a similar camp hosted by the Timberwolves during the first week of June, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Munford last played in the NBA in 2017/18, when he appeared in six games for Milwaukee.
  • Sid Hartman of Star Tribune examines the Timberwolves‘ decision to retain head coach Ryan Saunders, including how big a factor Glen Taylor‘s support of Saunders was.

Michael Porter Jr. Cleared, Expects To Play In Summer League

The Nuggets earned a No. 2 seed and advanced to Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals this season without any contributions from their 2018 first-round pick, Michael Porter Jr., who missed the season due to a back injury. However, Porter said today that he has been medically cleared and expects to suit up for Summer League action in July, as Sean Keeler of The Denver Post details.

“My back doesn’t hurt anymore, and I feel good,” Porter told reporters on Monday. “Really, I want to show that I’m back, I’m feeling good, I’m ready to play, and everything’s good.”

Viewed as a potential top-five talent in the 2018 draft class, Porter slipped to No. 14 overall due to health concerns. He previously underwent surgery to repair herniated disks in his back, and suffered from hip spasms in the spring leading up to the draft.

If they expect Porter to be healthy and ready to go for the 2019/20 season, the Nuggets could have some additional roster flexibility this offseason. Trey Lyles, for instance, is facing restricted free agency, but Denver may not aggressively attempt to re-sign him if the club anticipates Porter being a part of the frontcourt rotation next season.

Still, while this is a positive first step for the former lottery pick, he still a ways to go. The next step will be the Nuggets giving him the green light to participate in Summer League, and seeing how he responds.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Saunders, Layden, Donovan

The Nuggets wrapped up their first playoff series victory in a decade last night, but the franchise would have been well positioned for the future no matter what happened, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Franchise cornerstone Nikola Jokic is signed through the 2022/23 season, while young star Jamal Murray remains on his rookie contract. Denver has a $30MM option for next year on Paul Millsap and can get nearly $20MM under the cap by declining it. They hold three trade exceptions totaling roughly $33MM that don’t expire until July, and first-round pick Michael Porter Jr. is expected to be ready next year after missing this season because of back surgery.

“What gets me really excited is when I think about what this team has in the next couple of years,” coach Michael Malone said. “I think we have a great window that we’re just beginning with this young group, and Malik (Beasley), Jamal, all of our young guys are a big part of that.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders and GM Scott Layden have been meeting with prospective candidates for the president of basketball operations job and both seem in position to return next season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Layden, who was rumored to be on thin ice after the Jimmy Butler fiasco, solidified his relationship with owner Glen Taylor after Tom Thibodeau was fired, Krawczynski adds. Sanders is still classified as an interim coach, but he has the full support of star center Karl-Anthony Towns and virtually all the players.
  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan didn’t offer any clues about his future with the franchise during this week’s exit interviews, relays Clay Horning of The Norman Transcript. “For me, it’s just kind of business as usual,” said Donovan, who is coming off his third straight first-round playoff ouster. “(GM) Sam (Presti) and I had a chance to visit a little bit on the plane yesterday on the way back, just talking about the next couple of days and getting together. So, I’m sure he and I will get a chance to sit down as some of this stuff slows down and talk in detail and (I) look forward to that.”
  • Thunder rookie Deonte Burton thinks he benefited greatly from the time he spent in the G League, relays Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. Burton started the season as a two-way player before signing a multi-year contract in March. “G League is good talent, too,” he said. “Like a lot, a lot more talent than people think.”