With a stature of 6’10” and guard-like ball handling and shooting abilities, Michael Porter Jr. was one of the most coveted recruits of the 2017 high school graduating class. The young Seattle star surprisingly elected to take his talents to the SEC to play for the Missouri Tigers and head coach Cuonzo Martin. The next five years would take him on a painful, unforgettable, and transformational path to ultimately lead him to the NBA Finals.
Michael Porter Jr.’s Unthinkable Journey to the NBA Finals
Five years and three back surgeries. Encapsulated by the eagerness to show off his skills to the entire country, Porter Jr. only made it on the court for three games in two full years. He had one surgery in 2017 during his freshman year and another in 2018 just before the start of the season with his new team, the Denver Nuggets. He struggled with his mental health and questioned his worth in not only the NBA, but the game of basketball. His resurgence to finding his role in the game started with answering the question he kept asking himself during his time off, “why is this happening to me again?”
And then, it happened yet again, in 2021. He again wondered if it was worthwhile or satisfactory to still play basketball. With an incredible support system and belief in his skill, Porter Jr. decided to now focus on how this unique challenge could turn him into an improved player for his team.
In three postseasons with the team, he has averaged 13.7 points per game to aid league MVP Nikola Jokic and company in the Nuggets’ trophy aspirations. Now, they seemingly have their best chance yet, thanks to a factor that has plagued them for years: health.
Averaging 14 PPG and grabbing more than eight rebounds per postseason game this year, Porter Jr. seems to have cemented himself as one of Denver’s crucial pieces to earning the Larry O’Brien Trophy. After three excruciating back surgeries and plenty of sweat and tears, the SEC community has their eyes peeled on Michael Porter Jr. to display his A game on the national stage.