Michael Porter, Jr played in only nine games with the Denver Nuggets this season before he missed time with a lingering back injury. After recovering from surgery, Porter is awaiting to be cleared by the team to return to practice, which will begin the process to suiting back up with the Nuggets sometime in March.
This is great news for the Denver Nuggets (36-25), who are treading water with the #6 seed in the Western Conference playoff standings. The Dallas Mavericks have the same record, but they own a tiebreaker over the Nuggets, which is why the Mavs sit in the #5 seed.
Jamal Murray could also return to the Nuggets before the end of the regular season. Murray blew out his ACL last spring, but Porter stepped up in the scoring department and became the second option behind Nikola Jokic.
Without Murray all season and without Porter for most of this season, Jokic put up another MVP-like season. Jokic, the reigning MVP, averages 25.5 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game. His PER rating of 32.56 is ranked #1 in the league.
If the Nuggets can get both Murray and Porter back in the lineup, they will be a dangerous opponent in the postseason. The Nuggets are currently +3500 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship, according to a recent update by DraftKings. You can back the Nuggets to win the Western Conference at +1500 odds.
From Sniper to Sluggish
Last season, Porter shot lights out with a 44.5% clip from 3-point range. He increased his scoring average from 9.3 ppg in his rookie season to 19.0 ppg in his second season. He signed a max-contract extension and life looked great for Porter until the new season began.
However, in his third season, Porter struggled out of the gate. Porter played like a different person with the back injury averaging only 9.9 ppg, while shooting just 20.8% from 3-point range. At times Porter looked slow and sluggish and complained about numbness in his arms and hands, which was attributed to a preexisting back injury.
The Nuggets decided to sit Porter few games in early November in hopes that rest would alleviate the back injury. When the numbness continued, they shut him down indefinitely. After three weeks of inactivity and no improvement, Porter and the team opted for surgery in late November. That was his third back surgery, which is sort of alarming considering he’s only 23-years old.
It’s been three months since the surgery, and Porter is ready to rejoin the Nuggets.
On Deck: Thunder, Rockets, Pelicans
With 21 games remaining on their schedule, the Nuggets have a lopsided schedule with 14 homes games in the thin air of Colorado and just seven road games.
The Nuggets extended their winning streak to six games over the weekend with back-to-back victories against the Sacramento Kings and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Nuggets could win nine games in a row with three upcoming home games this week against losing teams, including two of the bottom feeders in the Western Conference.
On Wednesday, the Nuggets host the Oklahoma City Thunder (19-41). The Houston Rockets (15-45) visit Denver on Friday, and the New Orleans Pelicans (25-36) come to town on Sunday. The Pelicans are fighting for a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament and recently moved into the #10 seed ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers after winning two games in a row.
Betting wise, the Nuggets struggled to cover the spread this season with a 29-32 ATS record.