With Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray sidelined for the season due to a torn left ACL, it left a void for someone to take his spot as Denver’s No. 2 behind Nikola Jokic, especially in their first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Insert Michael Porter, Jr.
In his second NBA season, he’s taken up the responsibility of secondary scorer, and it’s been a learning curve for him.
After a 25-point, nine-rebound outing in Game 1, Porter Jr.’s shot attempts and points have decreased each game through four games.
He’s now averaging 15.3 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 43.6% from the field, 38.3% from the three-point line, and 41.7% from the free-throw line.
“My job as a head coach is to help Michael Porter,” said Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. “I also told him he has to help himself, being a lot more physical. Norman Powell was doing a good job, give him credit. Michael’s gotta be a lot more aggressive, a lot more physical himself. He’s gotta get on the glass, he’s much better rebound than he’s shown.
Part of the reason Porter Jr. may be having a “welcome to the NBA” experience is due to Blazers forward Norman Powell. Thus far in the series, Powell has been his primary defender, holding him to 21 points on 7-for-17 shooting (41.7%).
Where the struggles increase for Porter Jr. is Powell forcing him to make mistakes and not get the shot he wants. Powell has forced four turnovers and also blocked his shot four times.
“He’s doing a good job,” said Porter Jr. on Powell. “Lower center of mass. He’s not worried about anything else besides sticking close to me and not letting me get shots up. The shots I’m normally getting are not there.”
Markus Howard and Austin Rivers have taken turns the last two games leading Denver in shot attempts.
With his shot not falling, and there's no need for him to force anything, and Porter Jr. knows he must be effective elsewhere on the court.
“I can’t let myself be as small of a factor as I was the last couple of games in my opinion,” said Porter Jr. “They’re doing a good job of executing their gameplan for me. It’s a learning experience for me.”