Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr.: ‘I feel like I’m a better player than I’ve ever been’

Michael Porter Jr. is ready to return to the court.

The 20-year-old forward was selected by the Nuggets out of Missouri with the 14th pick in the 2018 draft but missed the entire season after he underwent a second back surgery last summer. Porter is expected to play for Denver’s summer league team in July.

“(Learning from the bench was) a huge advantage,” Porter recently told the Denver Post. “Just being on the bench, watching them play, seeing where I’m going to get my shots in the offense, and just learning the NBA game. It’s a lot different than college, spacing, and everything.”

Porter, who was one of the top-ranked players in the 2017 recruiting class, dealt with back problems during his lone season at Missouri, as well, and was limited to just three games.

Porter also struggled with drop foot during his recovery process in 2018-19 and will wear a brace in summer league, according to the Post’s report. Porter, however, said he’s feeling healthy

“To be honest, going into the season, I didn’t really expect myself to be able to play at 100% if I was to come play,” Porter said. “But like, the way I feel now, it’s leaps and bounds beyond where I thought I’d be at this point. I feel so good … I feel like I’m a better player than I’ve ever been.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said he has been impressed by Porter’s play during workouts and practice.

“What I’ve seen from Michael this year, in flashes, is a guy with tremendous size and length, that’s got deep range, that can shoot the ball, that can put the ball on the floor and has great athleticism to finish at the rim,” Malone said. “This will be a really big summer for Michael.”

The Nuggets finished the season with a 54-28 record and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13. They advanced to the Western Conference semifinals, where they fell to the Trail Blazers in seven games.