Photo via Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY
We often strive for financial freedom and the ability to have a stable lifestyle. Being able to raise a family comfortably is a certain dream many wish to achieve. Sometimes however, people want to take risks to acquire something they truly want. Perhaps a vacation house in Hawaii or a shiny new boat. Maybe they would like to pay the entirety of their children’s education. If they do this, they have money to fall back on in case something goes wrong like savings accounts, 401Ks, insurances and so on.
The Denver Nuggets currently are living a stable life in the NBA. Last season, they were the second seed in the Western Conference. This season, they currently sit at third in the conference at 36-16. They are a good and respectable team who can have some success to keep fans happy and be a factor in May. However, they are only stable, not great. They currently are not an elite team and one that many people consider to be true championship contenders.
However, part of having stability is having room to grow and with the age of the current Nuggets’ core, they can all improve and lead the team to at least the conference finals. Nikola Jokic has become one of the best big men in the NBA with his versatile game. He averages 20 points, 10 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game which are down from last year but still very strong. In their last game at Utah, he carried a banged-up Nuggets team to a 98-95 win with 30 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists. The best part is that Jokic is 24 years old. Point guard Jamal Murray has also become a star as he led the Nuggets to a first-round playoff win over the San Antonio Spurs last season with clutch baskets. He is only 22 years old.
These two players are great, but they will need another star if they are going to take the next step if they are going to possibly win an NBA Championship. A possible trade this summer for Washington Wizards’ star guard Bradley Beal is a possibility but that would be risky. They would have to give up quality starters in guard Gary Harris and winger Will Barton at least. It could put them over the top, but luckily for the Nuggets, they have a backup plan if things go wrong and they don’t achieve the success they want. His name: Michael Porter Jr.
In the 2017 NBA Draft, the Nuggets had the 13th pick in the draft that they ended up trading to the Utah Jazz. That pick would up becoming guard Donovan Mitchell who has blossomed into one of the NBA’s youngest stars. The Nuggets would not repeat that mistake as a year later, they drafted forward Michael Porter Jr. from Missouri. This was a low risk, high reward pick as Porter was a top-two recruit out of high school. He declared to play under his father and with his brother at Missouri after originally committing to Washington. He would then undergo two back surgeries after getting injured in Missouri’s opener against Iowa State. He was drafted by the Nuggets and then underwent another back surgery that caused him to miss his entire rookie season. He has slowly gotten more playing time and has started to show great promise for a franchise that already was a contender without him.
While he has averaged only eight points per game in the 39 games he has appeared in this season, he has averaged 14.7 points in his last ten games before sitting out the last three with a minor ankle injury. He has developed in a reliable bench player and occasional starter in his first season full-time season since high school. He is explosive as he can use his sheer athleticism with his 6’10 height to bully or blow past defenders for easy buckets. Unless you match him up with another player with his height and athleticism, he can cause a matchup problem. He is also from a perimeter threat as he has shot 48.8 percent from the three in his last ten games.
Porter has a lot of potential and even as a 21-year-old playing in his first full-time season since high school, he has shown flashes of becoming a star. The Nuggets are stable for now but may need to take a big risk to get to championship contention. Even if the Nuggets end up failing in their championship endeavors, they can rest easy in the fact they have another potential young star that can help keep the team afloat and lead them to more success in the future.
You have your 401K in Porter, Denver. Don’t blow it all away for success now.