After a great week of professional basketball, Michael Porter Jr. is climbing the ranks of the NBA’s best rookies.
Michael Porter Jr. missed all of his first year in the NBA with back problems. That was something Mizzou Tigers fans were used to hearing about after he spent most of his only year at Mizzou sidelined with the same injury.
But this past week, Denver Nuggets fans got to see what Tigers fan were hoping to see two years ago. For that, Porter Jr. was rated as the No. 1 rookie in this week’s CBS Sports NBA Rookie Power Rankings released Friday.
Porter averaged 15.5 points per game with 4.5 rebonds, including a career-high 25 points against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday.
"It was just a matter of time before Porter experienced a breakthrough moment for the Nuggets. It’s been hard for him to receive consistent playing time thanks to Denver’s deep roster, but over the past week, he’s stepped up as he’s seen his minutes increase. The best part about his play recently is how aggressive he’s been playing."
The week began with Porter making his first professional start. The No. 14 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft logged 26 minutes against the Sacramento Kings and scored 19 points on 8 of 10 shooting in the win.
Porter qualifies as a rookie in 2019-20 as he did not play at minute the year before. Now, his numbers aren’t close enough for the forward to take the NBA Rookie of the Year crown just yet. Memphis’ pair of rookies in Brandon Clarke and Ja Morant are playing more minutes with more points and better numbers all around. But if Porter can keep up what he has given the Nuggets over the past few games, he can jump into the conversation.
The problem for Porter to get into the discussion, however, is he is playing for one of the deepest NBA rosters. Porter is 12th in minutes on the team and 10th in games played this season. The 24-11 Nuggets don’t need to rely on Porter to make as much of a splash as he did against the Pacers night in and night out. They get it from several of their starters.
He will be behind Morant, New York’s R.J. Barrett and Atlanta’s De’Andre Hunter the rest of the season when it comes to their value. But it was fun to see the talent he can display for the Nuggets. Porter had seven-point games in two losses last week as well. But with performances like those he had in the Nuggets’ past two wins, he will see the floor more.
It might not give him a Rookie of the Year title, but he might be the piece the Nuggets were missing last year for them to win the NBA Championship this year.