Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Porter Jr. 2019-20 season stats:
When you’re looking back at Michael Porter Jr.’s season, you’re going to see a few things. On the one hand, you’re going to see how much of a natural he was on the offensive end of the floor. When he was given a high volume of minutes and touches, he could become the team’s best offensive player on the floor, and that includes stretches where he shared the floor with Nikola Jokic.
However, on the other side of things, you saw a large amount inconsistency, especially on the defensive end of the floor. When he missed a rotation or an assignment on defense, he was getting the hook, and he’d be on the bench for a long while. On a team that doesn’t have high aspirations, such as the Atlanta Hawks or Cleveland Cavaliers, he likely would have been averaging over 30 minutes per night this year.
For his rookie season, Porter has been everything you could have hoped for. He’s shot nearly 50 percent from the field, and he’s over 40 percent from 3-point range. He was never going to be a lockdown player on the defensive end, but his work on the offensive end does more than enough to offset his lapses on the other end.
Season Grade: B
I wanted to give a higher grade to Porter. I’ve been a fan of a lot of what I’ve seen from him this year, especially in the rebounding area, as he’s been putting up 10.7 per 36 minutes. Among rotation players, only Jokic and Mason Plumlee are averaging a higher mark. I’ve already talked about his offense, and he was able to put up points in bunches while playing multiple roles in the offense as a shooter, slasher and ball-handler.
I have to dock Porter for his work on defense. While not all of the lapses that occurred while he was on the floor, there were a few that were on him. Looking at the clip above, there is just no excuse for him to lose his man off of the dribble like that. In transition or a well-designed play is one thing, but there were multiple occasions where he was blown by for an easy bucket.
If you wanted to squabble over giving him a B+ over a flat B, I’d be willing to hear that argument. However, I think slotting him in here makes a lot of sense. He’s been good when he’s been on the floor, but he’s been inconsistent. Add in his struggles when he doesn’t get consistent minutes, and the grade feels right.
What’s next for Michael Porter Jr.?
I think Paul Millsap is gone this offseason with Jerami Grant returning on an extension. It also wouldn’t stun me to see Will Barton shipped out this year if they truly believe in Porter as a long-term piece, which they should. If they do that, Malone would be forced to start Porter next season, unless he wants to continue the Torrey Craig experiment. It would give the Nuggets a weaker squad defensively, but they would be significantly better on offense.
Porter has already had his option for next season picked up, and they’ll be looking to pick up his option for the following year in the fall. He’s earned it based on his play this season, and he’d be starting for most NBA teams despite his inexperience. Though Porter will be in his second season, he’s in the third year of his rookie contract, and it’s time to figure out just what he can be for this Nuggets team going forward. Even if the team were to bring back Millsap next season, it makes far more sense to slot Porter in as the starter. If he wasn’t a full-time starter by the end of the next season, I’d be shocked.