Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. didn’t waste one second of his break stewing about a potential snub from All-Star Weekend.
Instead, he went home, got in the gym and worked.
Porter, who missed the last six games prior to the break after rolling his right ankle in Milwaukee, said his ankle “feels pretty good” at Thursday’s practice, one day before the Nuggets will resume their campaign with a trip to Oklahoma City.
“The break was good for me,” Porter said. “Injuries happen. I was feeling pretty good playing, but I’m just happy that it wasn’t more serious. It was a little tweak in the ankle, I got the All-Star break to rest it, and it was good, so I feel fine.”
Porter said he spent most of the break getting shots up in anticipation of returning Friday against the Thunder.
“I was working out because I hadn’t played in a while,” Porter said. “I just wanted to be ready for this game coming up.
“I’m ready to play again,” Porter said. “I’m excited.”
Before Porter got hurt Jan. 31 in Milwaukee, where Denver submitted one of its signature wins of the season, he was averaging 12.3 points on 52% shooting from the field, including 48% from 3-point range, during the month of January. He was also snatching nearly seven rebounds per game in more than 21 minutes off the bench.
His apparent return should help ease the absence of starting small forward Will Barton, who is unlikely to play against the Thunder while navigating a lingering right knee injury.
“The bottom line is, the last month before he got hurt, he was playing at a very high level,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. “So, Michael Porter’s going to get a chance to play in the playoffs for us. I think that experience, like it was for Jamal and Nikola and all of our first-time players last year, was invaluable. If Michael can come back and be healthy, he’s a guy off the bench that provides a scoring punch, and his rebounding, his size and his length are things that you just can’t replicate.”