Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. appeared on Friday’s episode of J.J. Redick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast, and boy does he have some stories to tell. The discussion mostly centers around Porter’s path from a home-schooled AAU star to the University of Missouri and ultimately to the NBA, where last year he finished third in Most Improved Player voting.
Perhaps the most interesting piece of information came when Porter was asked about his back injury and subsequent surgery that ultimately led to him falling from a top two or three pick to the 14th selection in the 2018 draft. Specifically, Porter mentioned the medical evaluation that was given by the LA Clippers team doctor which shaped MPJ’s future entirely (discussion starts at 29:06):
“The Clippers had the 12th and 13th pick and their doctor is the one that did my evaluation. He wrote up like, ‘I don’t know if this guy will play again, nobody should take him.’ So that’s why I ended up dropping to 14, and the Clippers passed on me twice.”
Porter goes on to describe his pre-draft workout and reaggravating his injury right before the draft, how the injury shaped his experience on draft night given the uncertainty surrounding his health, and how the Nuggets ultimately came into the picture:
“The day before, Mark (Bartelstein, Porter’s agent) was like, ‘Mike, I want you to talk to the Nuggets, I just want to get you a floor to where you won’t go past.’ And so the Nuggets end up saying, ‘We don’t think he’ll be there but if he’s there we’ll take him.’ First time I talked to Tim Connelly was like the day of the draft. Like I didn’t really even think of the Nuggets as a possibility, and then you know, got drafted. I said at draft night, just for them believing in me, I wanted to be their best draft pick ever and I wanted to work as hard as I could to become that.”
So far MPJ is living up that promise as he’s clearly developed into a core piece alongside Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon moving forward. Last season, MPJ averaged 19 points and 7 rebounds and shot an insane 44.5% from three. Now, Porter is on the cusp of a max extension and will look to make another leap for a Nuggets team that will be a perennial contender in the Western Conference.
He’s also been behind some HUGE playoff moments for Denver the past two seasons, including this dagger three in Game 5 against none other than the Clippers in 2020:
As for the back injury? After rehabbing his entire first season, there have been virtually zero concerns about it.
Thanks, Clippers doctor!