It’s time. Nuggets fans know it, the media knows it and I’m sure every player, coach and member of the organization knows it. Michael Porter Jr. must start.
Isn’t this what the fans and organization have been waiting for? When Denver drafted MPJ two seasons ago, this was the vision they had in mind when taking him at pick No. 14, if of course he could get and remain healthy.
None of us knew what to expect from Porter Jr. following the time off and we surely didn’t know what his minutes would look like given how things went down before action stopped. But due to injuries, Malone had no choice but to go back to his young star and it has paid off.
Following a rough outing against Miami that saw Porter Jr. only log 11 points and one rebound in 24 minutes, he has validated the hype that surrounded him in high school. He looks to be a superstar in the making.
After his 37-point, 12-rebound performance against Oklahoma City on Monday, I was skeptical he could follow it up with another performance that would offer credibility to the argument that began to arise amongst Nuggets fans that he needed to be inserted into the starting lineup moving forward. Today, I feel foolish for doubting Porter Jr.
On Wednesday, he again set the tone from the jump, just as he did versus OKC, as he scored 10 of Denver’s first 12 points against the Spurs. Porter Jr. would go on to finish with 30 points and 15 boards.
Malone had nothing but praise for Porter Jr. postgame, stating that his performance against San Antonio showed us the type of talent he has and that there is only room to grow for Porter Jr. Shortly after, Malone admitted how scary that is for the rest of the league.
While Malone didn’t mention anything after the game about whether or not Porter Jr. would still be starting once the original starters return, one of MPJ’s teammates may have already gotten the ball rolling for his coach on Twitter. Who is that teammate you ask? Will Barton, the player starting ahead of Porter Jr.
MPJ is special! Ready right now! 6’10 small forward with a ratchet & a handle! Stop playing with him! Can’t be on a leash with that type ability! It’s time! Gotta let him be him! Shorty different!
— Will Barton (@WillTheThrillB5) August 5, 2020
With this tweet, I don’t think Barton is conceding his job to Porter Jr. However, I do think that he would understand a move to replace him with MPJ in the starting lineup, if Malone decides to go that direction. As a competitor, I’m sure it would be tough for Barton to accept moving to the bench, but we saw him do it last year in the playoffs and he handled it with class and respect.
I would also argue that for Barton, last year’s move to the bench was way tougher to accept than a potential move this year because last season Barton just wasn’t playing well after returning from injury. Whereas in this scenario, there is star developing right in front of our eyes and this kid alone has the potential to change this franchise’s trajectory for years to come.
So I repeat, it’s time Michael Malone. As will Barton said in his tweet, he is ready right now and there can’t be a leash on him anymore. If we must endure the growing pains of MPJ and sacrifice short-term success for the development of a superstar who will help this franchise possibly win championships long-term, count me in.
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