On the court again following a third procedure on his back, Denver Nuggets wing Michael Porter Jr. feels like he’s better prepared to handle the uncertainty that comes with returning from an extended period on the sidelines. Porter played just nine games in 2021-22 before undergoing season-ending surgery.
The fifth-year pro also missed his entire rookie season because of a surgery related to his back issues. In a recent interview with Andscape ahead of Denver’s season opener this year, Porter said he’s been more focused on the mental side of his recovery this time, and that starts with his faith.
“A lot of people get anxious or mental problems when they’re putting their hope in love that’s unstable,” he said in the interview. “So, I’m learning how to try to get my love from a stable source, which for me is God. So, learning to put that over things that are superchanging and fleeting, like the admiration of fans or what the public says about you, that’s been a big thing that’s brought me peace.”
Porter had a breakout season in 2020-21, averaging 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 44.5% from 3-point range. He was rewarded with a five-year maximum contract worth up to $207 million last September.
With Porter and point guard Jamal Murray back healthy alongside two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets are among the favorites in what appears to be a wide-open NBA season. Denver is currently 2-2 with a win over the defending-champion Golden State Warriors.
Michael Porter Jr. hops into a TOUGH 3-point jumper 🎯
2nd half of DEN-GSW Live Now on ESPN pic.twitter.com/f87llCKn8o
— NBA (@NBA) October 22, 2022
Porter is averaging 18.0 points through the team’s first four games and is connecting on exactly half of his 3-point attempts (16 of 32). He had 18 points, four rebounds and two assists in Denver’s 125-110 loss in Portland on Monday night.
During the interview with Andscape, Porter was asked what the best advice he’d received from a pastor was as he prepared for his return to the court.
“Just reminding me who I am, reminding me why I do what I do,” he replied. “It’s not for the approval of people, it’s not for the approval of coach. You don’t even have to impress God. The thing that I’m learning is there are so many things that are unstable in life.”
If not for the initial back injury Porter suffered at the University of Missouri, he may have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft instead of falling to the Nuggets at No. 14. And he reminds everyone why when he’s been healthy for Denver. Yet, through the ups and downs of his basketball career, Porter has kept his eyes on the Lord and tried to encourage others through his journey.
“There is a good, loving God named Jesus who died for all of us,” he posted on Instagram in February as he was sidelined. “All we have to do is believe and put our faith in Him! Through all the heartache, adversity, and tough times in life continue to trust in HIM and His divine plan!”
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The Nuggets have an off day Tuesday before hosting the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
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