Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. wants to stay healthy for remainder of NBA career

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Denver Nuggets Michael Porter Jr. wants to stay healthy for remainder of NBA career

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. was selected 14th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, and the 6-foot-10 wing believes he could have been the No. 1 overall pick if not for injuries. Porter Jr. was still experiencing lower back discomfort, dating back to his freshman year at Missouri.

MPJ sustained his back injury during the first half of Missouri’s 2017-18 season opener against Iowa. He played a combined 53 minutes in three games. On Nov. 22, 2017, Porter Jr. underwent a microdiscectomy of his L3-L4 spinal discs. After the draft on July 19, 2018, the Nuggets announced that Porter Jr. had undergone a second back surgery.

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“All the extra work that most guys have to put in, which is a lot, I’m having to do three times that much just to be able to play,” the Nuggets forward told Mirin Fader of The Ringer. “Basically, my whole life revolves around just trying to be able to stay healthy. …  A lot of the most successful people in the world really, truly are the most unhappy.

“I want to keep striving, but also realizing success shouldn’t be defined by me being better than everyone else or me being the no. 1 player. It should be defined by: I pushed myself to reach my potential. And my potential may look different now that I’ve had these injuries. Maybe my potential now isn’t the best player in the NBA. Maybe it is. I don’t know.”

Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. says his whole life revolves around ‘just trying to be able to stay healthy’

Moreover, Michael Porter Jr. made only nine appearances in the 2021-22 NBA season. On Nov. 29, 2021, Porter’s agent of Priority Sports, Mark Bartelstein, announced that Porter Jr. would undergo a season-ending third back surgery. The Missouri product averaged 9.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals, and 29.4 minutes per game last season.

Porter Jr. appeared in a career-high 62 games this past regular season. The fourth-year wing averaged 17.4 points, 5.5 boards, 1.0 assist, and 29 minutes per game with the Nuggets. Plus, he shot 48.7% from the floor and 41.4% beyond the arc.

In Denver’s 126-103 win over the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 13, the forward scored a season-high 31 points in 25 minutes as a starter. Along with logging one rebound, two dimes, and two steals, Porter Jr. shot 11-of-16 (68.8%) from the field and 6-of-9 (66.7%) from 3-point range.

Through 15 starts this postseason, Porter Jr. is averaging 14.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 33.8 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 45.5% from the floor, 40.8% outside the arc, and 81% at the foul line. In the Nuggets’ Game 3 first-round win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the wing scored 25 points.

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