The NBA announced three finalists for all the major awards yesterday and Michael Porter Jr. was amongst those for the leagues most improved player. Former Nugget Jerami Grant and New York Knicks star Julius Randle are the other two finalists.
Randle will likely win the award after a phenomenal season in which he led the Knicks to a top-4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Still, Porter has a great chance to at least be runner-up, which is a huge accomplishment in just his second season of actual playing time.
After sitting out the entire 2018-19 season due to a back injury, Porter played in 55 games last year averaging 9.3 points per game. Then the playoffs as Porter started to showcase his abilities even more averaging 11.4 points per game in the Nuggets 19 playoff games.
Fast forward to this year and Porter has taken a massive leap forward bumping his points per game average up to 19. Not only has Porter scored the ball with ease, but his efficiency has been incredibly high as he shot 44.5 percent from three in the regular season. And it’s not as if Porter doesn't shoot many threes and that’s why his percentage is so high, MPJ is attempting just over six threes (6.3) a night and is making (2.8) almost half of them.
Porter also averaged a career-high 7.3 rebounds a game during the regular season as he is not just impacting the game offensively, but on the boards as well. Defense has always been a question mark surrounding Porter, but that part of his game has also improved this season. Porter is no longer a liability on that end of the floor as he truly has bought in to improving his game on both ends of the floor.
Since Jamal Murray went down due to injury, the Nuggets have a record of 13-5 and Porter is a massive reason why. Nikola Jokic has continued to play like an NBA MVP and Porter has grown into that role as the Nuggets “second guy.”Hopefully that continues in the playoffs as the Nuggets need Porter to be great if they want to make a run for their first title.