In order to stand a chance in a full 7-game series, the Denver Nuggets are going to need Michael Porter Jr. to suit up. While he’s yet to rule out a potential return, Porter Jr., who is dealing with a spine injury, doesn’t seem likely to make an appearance.
For the sake of a what-if scenario, let’s take a look at what MPJ would offer the Nuggets and how the Warriors may struggle to adjust if he can take the court.
The Golden State Warriors are the clearly superior team in the Dubs-Nuggets series. But, could that change if Michael Porter Jr. makes a return?
The real problem for the Nuggets right now, facing a 2-0 deficit, is that they lack scoring outside of reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. Jokic can only do so much, and his 25 points on 25 shots in Game 1 isn’t going to cut it. Jokic went for 26 points and 4 assists on Monday night in a 126-106 loss.
Jokic has topped 20 points in both games, and Will Barton’s Game 1 24 points is the only time another Nugget has went over 15. While the Warriors have a dynamic lineup, Denver’s injuries have really been their main setback.
It’s missed Jamal Murray all season and has had Michael Porter Jr., who could still return, for 9 games. MPJ would be incredibly impactful if he’s able to make a comeback, but the chances seem slim.
For starters, MPJ would force spacing.
While he played just 9 games this season, Porter Jr. put up 19 points per game and shot 44.5% from deep a season ago. In both seasons in which he’s played double-digit games, MPJ has shot over 50% from the field and over 40% from deep.
Jokic has averaged 5 assists per game which doesn’t compare favorably to his 7.9 per game average this season. His vision is among the best in the NBA, and he needs MPJ to be on the receiving end of his passes.
Porter Jr. would also be a major factor on the boards.
MPJ is a legit 6-foot-10 and is athletic as well. He averages 6.1 rebounds per game on his career and over 1 offensive board per game. Considering JaMychal Green is averaging just 5 boards per game, MPJ’s presence could be felt on the glass.
Again, it’s unlikely MPJ makes a return, but without him, this could be a quick series as we’ve seen two dominant showing from the Warriors with little answer from a helpless Nuggets side.