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The NBA has yet another budding superstar. Averaging 22 points and nine rebounds in the bubble, Michael Porter Jr. has shocked the NBA world night in and night out. Porter Jr. has displayed unexpected offensive explosions helping the Denver Nuggets maintain the three-seed in a tough Western Conference. His presence as a scoring option has opened up the court for the rest of his team. If Porter continues to perform the way he has, Denver could be looking at a deep playoff run.

But why was Porter’s performance so unexpected?

The year is 2017, Michael Porter Jr. is a senior at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle. Porter is a five-star recruit, and the number one projected pick in the NBA draft just a year from now. The 6’10 215 lbs phenom drew comparisons to Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant. Michael Porter Jr surely has a life of NBA success ahead of him. After committing to the University of Missouri, Porter was ready to begin his journey to the NBA. But that college basketball season, everything changed for Michael Porter Jr.

Within the first two minutes of his first college basketball game, Michael Porter Jr. got hurt. This injury, multiple herniated disks in his back, kept him on the bench for the entire college season. The injury crippled Porter’s draft stock and national ranking, as the night of the 2018 draft, Porter watched as 13 other prospects were chosen before him. The once sure-thing top selection, had nearly slid out of the lottery.

But this was a blessing in disguise.

Porter was drafted by the Denver Nuggets, a team who is already contending in the Western Conference playoffs. Although I’m sure Porter would have preferred to be selected higher, being chosen by a team like the Nuggets means he can immediately compete for championships. Well, not immediately. Porter’s injury was so bad he was forced to sit out his entire rookie season. He watched as his Nuggets lost a seven-game series in the conference semi-finals, where an impact player like himself could have made a huge difference.

One year later, Michael Porter Jr made his NBA debut. Porter played the entire season as a role player, only seeing 16 minutes of playing time each game, doing what he can to help the Nuggets win games, but Porter knew that he could do more if given the chance. After five-months of training while the NBA returned from hiatus, Michael Porter Jr. was given a shot to prove his worth and he stepped up big time.

In the second seeding game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Michael Porter Jr. played 44 minutes, and unleashed an offensive explosion. Porter scored 37 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in an overtime victory. Porter did it again the next game, becoming the first rookie to score 30 points, grab 15 rebounds, and make 5 three point shots in a win against the Spurs. Game after game in the bubble, Michael Porter Jr has illustrated elite scoring, shooting and rebounding. Porter displayed an ability to be a hybrid offensive player, as he makes 42% of his three-point shots despite being seen as a big man. His elite ability to grab rebounds also leads to extra possessions for the Nuggets.

Denver has a tough playoff series against the Utah Jazz coming up, and Michael Porter Jr could be the difference-maker the Nuggets have been looking for. If he continues to play the way he has in the bubble, Porter could become a superstar. Michael Porter Jr has shown flashes of excellence, and as long as his team believes in him, he can be the future of the NBA.

Image: Sporting News