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Film Friday: Michael Porter Jr. is here to stay

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Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If you’re not familiar with Film Fridays, each Friday, I’ll be looking at some recent Denver Nuggets’ games, lineups or something else from a film aspect to try and bring you a piece of content that you’re not getting somewhere else. Feel free to give any feedback positive or negative in the comments or find me on Twitter.

After the explosion that was Bol Bol during the exhibition games, we have a new coming of age story happening before our eyes. 2019 first-round pick Michael Porter Jr., who struggled to crack the rotation after sitting out all of his rookie season, has been arguably the team’s best player since the final eight games began. In three games of play, (This article was written before Thursday night’s matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers), he’s been torching the nets.

He’s averaging 26.0 and 9.3 rebounds on 58.7 percent shooting from the floor and 47.8 percent from 3-point land. Is he locking things down on the defensive end? Not necessarily, but he more than makes up for it with this offense. After being punished for that all year, he’s finally being rewarded for his play, as he’s second on the team in minutes behind only Nikola Jokic.

After wanting to see more of Porter all year long, we’re finally getting to see just that, and it’s a glorious sight. Just how is he doing that? That’s what we’re going to look at today. This guy’s size allows him to see over everyone, and he’s got a pure and quick shot. Let’s spend a little bit of our Friday enjoying the offensive excellence that is MPJ.

Height = An Advantage Inside

Excluding Noah Vonleh, Porter is third on the team in rebounds per-36 minutes behind Mason Plumlee and Nikola Jokic. He’s the only other player on the team that averages greater than 10 per. That comes to his aid in a big way when he gets inside. I count three white jerseys around him on this play, but it doesn’t matter. He uses his height and long arms to sky over each of them to get the ball.

If you go back and watch the film on Porter, you’re going to see him make plays like this every single game. His bounce allows him to sky for balls that are usually reserved for bigs, and those extra points add up over the course of a game. Denver is top five in second-chance points on the year, and the contributions of Porter often go a long way towards that ranking.

Same game. Different side of the floor. Same result. Porter is always diving towards the boards on the offensive end, although there are opportunities he needs to let go. This isn’t one of them. Porter ends up in between three other Spurs’ defenders, and he scores on four of them. His height and high release just make it next to impossible to get a hand on his shot.

Big Guy Can Handle

How often do you see a guy that’s 6’10” that can take a smaller defender off the dribble? They’re pretty rare, which is why they’re so sought after when they come around. This play is partially brought about because of Porter’s shooting, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Porter is out on the break with a lot of room to work. He catches the ball, and he goes to work. He makes one jab step, and it takes him just two dribbles and a gather until he’s laying the ball into the basket.

Not a ton of fancy handling here, but Porter gets the rebound and never looks back. He’s got point guards Monte Morris and P.J. Dozier on the floor, but he’s ready to push the ball. With the defense on their heels, he has them entirely at their mercy. Walking up to the 3-point line, he sees all of the space in front of him, and he doesn’t hesitate to fire away. Having a player on the floor, other than Jokic or a guard, that can handle the ball, gives them the ability to throw a different look at opposing defenses.

Everybody Loves A Shooter

Porter was always going to be a good shooter. He was compared to Kevin Durant thanks to his height and shooting ability, and that has rang true in the league. His high release just makes it impossible to bother his shot. On this play, he’s got 6’5” Hamidou Diallo right in his face, and there is less than no separation between the two of them. He just leans back slightly and nails the easy jumper over his outstretched hand. This is the same level of unguardable as Jokic’s Sombor Shuffle.

This is just another instance of how his shot can’t be affected no matter the coverage. This one’s in a different spot on the floor, and he’s even further from the bucket. It didn’t matter. Dejounte Murray has his hand in Porter’s face, and it doesn’t matter. He’s rising up and fading from the basket, but he still manages to splash the 3-point shot. That’s the type of shot-making talent this Nuggets’ roster needed.

Porter has busted into the starting lineup, and I don’t think he’s going to be leaving. His teammates are aware of his talent, and Will Barton, who’s spot he would be taking, is openly caping for him. Porter needs to do more work on the defensive end of the floor. We can all agree on that, but, when you can warp defenses in a way that hardly anyone else on the roster can, you have to be on the floor the majority of the time.

For those of you that are still here, remember to leave your feedback in the comments or over on my Twitter, and have a fantastic film-filled Friday.