Michael Porter Jr. ‘realized loads’ in first yr, able to step up as Denver Nuggets’ third star

Michael Porter Jr. is able to do extra than simply fill the void on the Denver Nuggets attributable to the departures of key wing gamers reminiscent of Jerami Grant and Torrey Craig.

The second-year ahead is ready to not solely be a full-time starter, however believes he is able to be the third star that Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic want.

“Yeah, I do,” Porter stated when requested if he thinks he can turn out to be the second- or third-leading scorer on the group.

“I wish to be probably the greatest gamers,” Porter later added. “And I wish to guard the most effective gamers and I need the most effective gamers on the opposite group to protect me.”

Tim Connelly, Nuggets president of basketball operations, stated it’s a poorly saved secret that the Nuggets want Porter to take an enormous step ahead this season. They misplaced Grant’s versatility, significantly on protection, when the ahead signed with the Detroit Pistons. And Craig, one of many group’s different high wing defenders, signed with the Milwaukee Bucks.

After sitting out the 2018-19 season following again surgical procedure, Porter’s taking part in time fluctuated to begin his rookie season. Elevated into the beginning lineup attributable to accidents, Porter shined through the seeding video games within the NBA’s restart in Orlando, Florida. He was named to the All-Seeding Video games second group after averaging 22.0 factors, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and one steal in seven video games.

He began three video games within the postseason and was inconsistent, averaging 11.4 factors and 6.7 rebounds. However the expertise of taking part in 23.7 minutes per recreation within the playoffs on a group that pulled off two straight historic 3-1 collection comebacks to achieve the Western Convention finals was extremely precious.

“I sort of noticed every thing final yr,” stated Porter. “We performed LeBron [James] within the playoffs, I performed in opposition to Kawhi [Leonard], Paul George, all the most effective gamers at my place. So I really feel like I’ve some expertise now going into this season that I did not have final yr in my first yr taking part in.”

“I went from DNPs to beginning on a Western Convention finals group within the playoffs,” Porter added. “I realized loads in a single yr and trying to carry that over to this yr. I wish to make a extremely large soar. I have been working actually onerous in all of the areas that I noticed that I have to get higher within the playoffs. I am excited and I really feel like I am prepared.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone stated that the beginning spots at taking pictures guard, small ahead and energy ahead have but to be determined, however he believes Porter could make an enormous leap.

“I believe [he] actually confirmed himself nicely in these 19 playoff video games that he had an opportunity to play in in Orlando,” Malone stated. “And I believe Michael Porter has an opportunity to be an all-league expertise, and I am excited to see what he can do that yr.”

Veteran Will Barton, who left the bubble previous to the seeding video games due to a knee harm, stated he’s feeling higher and has made it clear he prefers to not come off the bench.

“I am a starter on this league,” Barton instructed reporters Friday. “I believe I’ve proved that yr in and yr out being some of the constant gamers in the entire NBA.

“… I believe it’s clear-cut who I’m on this league.”

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