A reported nerve issue in Michael Porter Jr.’s back may cost him the rest of the season, according to The Denver Post. This will end the Denver Nuggets’ championship hopes, but could secure Nikola Jokic his second-straight MVP.
Now Jokic has been out the last two games with his own wrist injury and head coach Michael Malone has said he is unsure of a timetable for the MVP’s return. But, it is unlikely he misses a lengthy stretch of time.
“I DON’T THINK IT’S GOING TO BE A LONG-TERM THING AT ALL, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, I DON’T WANT TO PUT HIM OUT THERE IF HE CAN ONLY PLAY WITH ONE HAND,” MALONE SAID. “UNFAIR TO ASK HIM TO DO THAT. WHEN HE’S READY TO PLAY, HE’LL PLAY. THAT COULD BE AGAINST PHOENIX, THAT COULD BE IN A WEEK. THERE’S NO TIMELINE AT THIS POINT.”
The Nuggets are already without starting point guard Jamal Murray, who is recovering from an ACL injury.
Prior to Jokic’s injury, he was making his own MVP case and the team was 9-5. If Jokic can win enough games without MPJ and Murray to make the top five in the Western Conference, he should be a shoo-in for the MVP award this season.
If he’s able to return, pick up where he left off and keep the Nuggets without MPJ and Murray in the top five of the west and out of the play-in tournament; look out.
A healthy Nuggets squad, given what the rest of the West is doing, could contend with the Warriors and Suns for the top of the conference.
This season was supposed to be another big step forward for MPJ. Without Murray, he was clearly going to be the team’s number-two option.
Last season, MPJ’s per 36 numbers were 21.9 points per game on 55/44/79 shooting splits. His eFG percentage was 64 and TS percent was 66. That’s elite offensive production.
The Nuggets made sure MPJ was a part of their long-term future by signing him to a max rookie extension.
When the Nuggets drafted MPJ in 2018 they were aware of the back injuries and surgery suffered in his lone season at Missouri. He sat out his entire rookie season, and played limited minutes in his second season.
But by year three, he was healthy and showing out in training camp and practice and Malone couldn’t keep him on the bench. He jumped up to 31 minutes per game plus playoffs.
Between his second season and last season, that’s the most concentrated basketball MPJ has played in some time. Perhaps that led to aggravating the back.
Through only nine games this season, MPJ was averaging a paltry 9.9 points on only 36 percent shooting. He was connecting on only 21 percent of his 3-pointers, as well.
MPJ is currently receiving treatment and working on strengthening the area around the injury. According to The Denver Post, another surgery is possible. That would be MPJ’s third back procedure.
With the injuries the team is seeing, as of now, this is not even a play-in team.
But Jokic is the rising tide that lifts all ships. He can elevate those around him and lead this team to the playoffs. If he doesn’t get help from MPJ and Murray for the majority of the season, that is deserving of the MVP.
More news from our partners: