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.

We’re right around a month into the NBA season, and we’ve seen a lot of wild things happening across the league. The Denver Nuggets are arguably the best team in the NBA, and they’re currently tied with the Boston Celtics at 9-2 for the league’s best record despite the fact that they’ve played essentially their last five games without Jamal Murray. One reason they’ve remained afloat has been the play of Michael Porter Jr. 

Porter is averaging 16.3 points per game this year despite shooting only 35.4 percent from 3-point range, which is his lowest-career mark outside of two years ago when he played just nine games before being shut down with a season-ending back injury. Porter’s defense has taken a step forward, and he’s been an outstanding rebounder. However, the decrease in his 3-point effectiveness is something that still needs to have an eye kept on it.

His -1.2 Defensive Box Plus/Minus is an improvement over last season, and it truly doesn’t show the difference-maker he has been on that end of the floor. In his sixth NBA season, we’ve seen MPJ make strides on both ends, but it still feels at times like he’s not quite reaching his full potential. This Nuggets’ roster is already one of the league’s most dangerous at full strength, but this one wheel that isn’t quite spinning right could take it to a different level.

Shot Making

For MPJ, this is objectively not a bad shot. He has nearly a foot of height over the defender, so that’s not an issue. My “problem” with the shot is how he takes it and when he takes it. There’s still 13 seconds on the shot clock when he makes the decision to try and shoot. However, he could have waited for Aaron Gordon to clear out his defender, which would give Porter more room to operate and to work his way to the basket. Porter hasn’t fully developed his back-to-the-basket game yet, and I’m beginning to think that he never will. With his jump shot, he doesn’t necessarily need that tool in his toolbox, but I sometimes wish that he had it.

This is what makes Porter such a tough player to get a good read on. This comes from the same game as the previous play, and it’s a much tougher shot. He’s on the move with the shot clock at less than 1.5 seconds, so he’s got to catch this ball and get a shot up with the defender’s hand in his face while he’s fading away from the rim. He cashes the thing without ever hitting the rim.

Defensive End

This is one of those areas of defense that we’ve seen a clear improvement from Mike. He gets blown past by the smaller guard, but he doesn’t stop hustling just because of that. Jalen Green gets stonewalled by Christian Braun, and that gives Porter enough time to recover on the play to be rewarded with the block. Porter’s defensive activity level has wavered in previous seasons. When he’s not as involved on the offensive end, we’ve seen some lapses on the other end, but those have been more and more difficult to find this year. 

Again, we’re using a play from the same game to look at Porter’s defense. Braun gets beat, and Zeke Nnaji doesn’t hedge over to try to stop the drive. This forces Porter to try and rotate to the rim to stop the shot. My issue with it though is that he doesn’t fully commit to it. He shades off of his man in the corner, but he stops on the opposite side of the paint where he can’t actually affect the shot. Instead, he finds himself in no-man’s land and unable to alter anything. Tari Eason gets the free triple in the corner off of the Aaron Holiday assist. This breakdown wasn’t exclusively on Porter, but his play was just the finishing touch on a play that he had a chance to help in two different ways but accomplished neither.

In his sixth season, MPJ remains one of the league’s best 3-point shooters, and he has takeover potential when he’s really feeling himself. For a team that already has Murray and Nikola Jokic, it’s a luxury to have a third guy that can carry a game for you. Even Gordon can do it from time-to-time. Murray is going to come back, and Jokic will continue to be the most unbeatable player in the NBA on the offensive end of the floor. However, for Denver to be able to fight for a championship this season, they need MPJ to find his night-to-night swagger again. It’s still there. We see it for bursts in quarters and halves, but that consistency isn’t there yet again. 

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.