Michael Porter Jr. (Left Heel Strain) Out vs. Wizards

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat

The Denver Nuggets will be without their third star yet again in tonight’s matchup against the Washington Wizards. Michael Porter Jr. (MPJ) will is still nursing a left heel strain, but is making progress. Denver is currently on a two game win-streak after wins over the Trail Blazers and the Jazz. However, they have missed their lethal shooting wing and his impact. Without Porter Jr., the Nuggets have been without a three-point shooting weapon that stretches opposing defenses allowing room in the paint for cutters or for Nikola Jokic to operate.

His ability to space the floor is crucial to the Nuggets’ potent offensive attack. Michael Porter Jr. is currently ranked 19th in the league for three-point shooting percentage at 42.7 percent, one spot below Stephen Curry who is currently stroking it at a rate of 43.2 percent. When you consider that Denver is the number one three-point shooting team at 39.4 percent, it’s clear he is an integral part of Denver’s offensive scheme, especially with Nikola Jokic drawing multiple double-teams. Not to mention, Michael Porter Jr. possesses good length to alter shots at the rim when rotating on defense, something the Nuggets have sorely missed during this stretch of missed games.

Michael Porter Jr. Slated to Miss Wednesday’s Game vs. Wizards

It is a shame Porter Jr. has missed so much time. He had been having a career year. So far, MPJ is tallying 16.4 points per game, six rebounds, and a true shooting percentage of 60.0 percent. On top of this, he is also averaging a player efficiency rating of 16.2 to go along with an offensive rating of 116. Bear in mind there is still a lot of season left to play, so we could easily see an uptick in these numbers once MPJ is back healthy. Head coach, Michael Malone, also had high praise for MPJ after a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 22nd .

“I’m so proud of Michael I’m on him a lot about his defense … I want him to be the best version of Michael Porter. … He’s showed me that he cares.”

Porter Jr. has come a long way in terms of ingratiating himself with coach Malone and improving on the defensive end of the floor since his rookie year. The two knocks on him have always been his health and his defense. While his health is still a concern and may continue to be as he progresses his career, his improved defense deserves more credit. MPJ’s defensive numbers may not be anything to write home about, but they also don’t tell the whole story.

As alluded to already, his length allows him to contest shots at the rim and even get a few blocks here and there. The Denver Nuggets will continue to miss Michael Porter Jr., especially the impact he has on the offensive end of the floor. However, they still have enough firepower to remain competitive which is a huge reason why they are not rushing him back from his heel strain. When MPJ does return, the league will have another problem to deal with on the Denver Nuggets’ high-powered offense.

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