香港三级

Denver Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr. enjoying first official training camp

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- It was an 11-second moment that made its rounds on social media. In a clip posted by the NBA Tuesday, Michael Porter Jr. bounced a pass to Tyler Zeller, who fed the rookie on a give-and-go near the basket. Then, in a split-second, Porter Jr., who looked completely undaunted by a double team from Gary Harris and Nikola Joki膰 at the rim, went in for a thunderous slam. Those in attendance at the basketball courts at U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Center went wild.

What is frightening is Porter Jr. appeared to be unfazed by the moment, which received almost 2,000 retweets and 15,000 likes on Bleacher Report's Twitter .

鈥淚t was cool, I didn鈥檛 think it was that crazy,鈥 Porter Jr. said Wednesday. 鈥淧eople kept sending it to me, but yeah, it was just a regular thing.鈥

It is that ice-cold scoring ability that made Porter Jr. an easy selection for the Nuggets with the No. 14 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, despite some concerns over his injury history. Since Porter Jr. was essentially redshirted in his first season as he worked his way back, this is his first official training camp. So far, he鈥檚 certainly had his share of growing pains as he tries to adjust to an atypical situation for a highly-touted rookie.

While most lottery picks have room for mistakes on rebuilding teams, Porter Jr. joins a deep roster that won 54 games last season. If he鈥檚 going to play, he鈥檚 going to have to fit in and earn minutes. In training camp, there have been moments of brilliance like Tuesday鈥檚 dunk and then there are times where he鈥檚 still trying to learn the Nuggets鈥 offensive and defensive sets.

鈥淢ichael is a great kid, he really is, but he鈥檚 going to do some things that are going to make my hair and beard get a little bit grayer,鈥 Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said jokingly Wednesday.

Joki膰 has been impressed with what he鈥檚 seen from Porter Jr. so far, but gave a detailed explanation of where the forward needs to improve.

鈥淗e鈥檚 really talented, but he鈥檚 still learning,鈥 Joki膰 said Wednesday. 鈥淟ike you can see him looking for the basics of where he鈥檚 supposed to be [on plays].鈥

Jokic explained Porter Jr. won鈥檛 need much time to adjust due to his vast potential, but said the 21-year-old's ability to think on the fly, especially on cuts, will get better as he gets used to the Nuggets鈥 system. Porter Jr. was arguably the top high school prospect in the nation and he won the McDonald鈥檚 All-American MVP in 2017. He鈥檚 used to having offenses tailored to his strengths as a scorer, but it will be his off-the-ball skill and defense that will determine his time this season on the Nuggets. Porter Jr., for his part, appears excited to play with a unique facilitator in Jokic.

鈥淚t鈥檚 crazy, sometimes you won鈥檛 even think he鈥檚 looking at you, but then he鈥檒l throw a perfect pass to you,鈥 Porter Jr. said. 鈥淟ike he told me I could be the best cutter on the team because I can finish above the rim. Nikola has such good vision so I just have to keep moving.鈥

Despite Porter Jr.鈥檚 obvious talent, he is competing for minutes in arguably the Nuggets鈥 deepest position on the roster: Small forward. Torrey Craig is an impressive defender who continues to improve offensively, Will Barton is one of the team鈥檚 most versatile players and Juancho Hernang贸mez is a long-range threat who can help keep defenses honest. But considering how far Porter Jr. has come, battling several injuries over the past two years, he鈥檚 appreciative of being able to finally participate in a training camp and raring to go for potentially his first NBA action 鈥 next Tuesday鈥檚 preseason game against the Trail Blazers.

鈥淲e have such a great team already. I鈥檓 a first-year player, [I] don鈥檛 know everything that鈥檚 going on. I probably won鈥檛 get the huge role that I want off the bat,鈥 Porter Jr. said. 鈥淓very player started slow. I mean look at Kawhi [Leonard] when he was first in San Antonio [with the Spurs]. So for me, it鈥檚 about being mature, accepting my role and excelling in that.鈥

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