- Michael Porter Jr is due to have back surgery on a nerve issue and will miss the rest of the season
- Denver’s title odds are unmoved by the news even with Jamal Murray also sidelined long-term
- Porter is heading for his third lower back surgery before turning 24
The worst fears were confirmed for the Denver Nuggets on Monday. Michael Porter Jr’s season is reportedly over as he heads for lower back surgery to deal with a nerve issue. It’s the third lower back surgery for Porter before his 24th birthday, and it’s potentially a knockout blow to the Nuggets’ 2021-22 season.
Denver is already without Jamal Murray, who suffered an ACL tear last season. Updates are limited on Murray’s return, but the best case scenario would be that he is back playing competitive games just before the postseason. Nikola Jokic, the reigning MVP and a contender for the award again in 2021-22, has even missed the last four games with a wrist issue. He must now carry the team through at least the regular season.
2021-22 NBA Championship Odds
|Golden State Warriors||+600|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+1000|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+2100|
Odds as of Nov 29th at FanDuelAdvertising Disclosure
Back Troubles MPJ Again
Regarded as the number one player in the country at high school, back issues saw Michael Porter Jr fall to the Nuggets in the late lottery. He missed his first season in the league and was held to just eight starts in what became a delayed rookie year. Denver has carefully managed his workload, such is the concern about his health.
Porter’s back issues were always a factor to keep in mind in NBA Championship odds. Nuggets backers have known that Porter’s availability cannot be relied on, but there’s no denying this is a gutting blow for the franchise and player. This is a third lower back surgery for Porter, meaning he will have spent just one of his first four years in the league as a starter.
Three low back surgeries before the age of 24 for Michael Porter Jr. I really feel for him. Staring another long rehab process in the face would be incredibly intimidating especially after already going through it twice. For someone like Porter who lives in the gym, it's gutting.
— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) November 29, 2021
One of the preseason favorites for Most Improved Player and set for an increase in usage with Jamal Murray sidelined, this news raises doubts about Porter long-term as a part of Denver’s core, and you can’t help but wonder where this leaves the franchise going forward after giving the 6’10 forward a five-year deal worth over $170 million in the offseason.
Too Much For the Joker
Nikola Jokic is rightly in the center of the MVP race once again. Even with Porter missing time, he’s been able to keep the Nuggets competitive with an 8-6 record in games he’s played. He’s the runaway leader in box plus-minus on the year at 15.1, way ahead of second-placed Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 10.5.
The future of the Denver Nuggets as long-term championship contenders hinges on the health of Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. If both make full recoveries, Denver has a trio with Nikola Jokic that can compete with anyone. Porter (23), Murray (24) and Jokic (26) are all young https://t.co/SdXtCEGHbk
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) November 29, 2021
As great as Jokic is, though, carrying this Nuggets roster for a full regular season is a wild ask. Aaron Gordon was a great acquisition because he could be the fifth option on offense, but much more will be asked of the former Magic forward. Having Will Barton as a second option on offense isn’t the stuff of title contenders.
There’s potential for Denver to scrape along at around .500 if Jokic stays healthy, as shown by their record when he’s played. Maybe they can sneak into the six seed.
All eyes are now on Murray. They have an extra buffer thanks to the Play-In, and if Murray can get healthy and ready to go for the playoffs, they will be a scary opponent for anyone in the Play-In and beyond.
That’s a lot of ifs and buts for a team with shorter title odds than the Bulls, Hawks and Mavericks. Jokic might be able to get them to the postseason on his own, but even with Murray back, their ceiling is much lower with Porter sidelined. This is probably another lost season for one of the NBA’s most exciting rosters.