Nuggets Murray, Porter Jr. Unlikely to Return This Season


It appears that the Denver Nuggets are expecting to be without stars Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. for the playoffs, according to Shams Charania of the Athletic. The two have combined for just 9 games played this season due to injury.

Both Murray and Porter Jr. have played key roles in the Nuggets' recent playoff success. Murray erupted back in 2020 to lead Denver all the way to a conference finals clash with the eventual champion L.A. Lakers, averaging 26.5 points over the course of three series. An ACL injury he suffered near the end of last year's regular-season has held him out for the entirety of this season, and will now sideline him for a second-straight postseason, although their is some optimism he could be "close" to a return. Regardless, as Charania reported, the Nuggets will continue to be very careful with his recovery to avoid losing their star point guard for another long stretch of time down the road.

Porter Jr., now in his fourth season, filled in well for Murray during last year's playoffs, becoming the team's second option and averaging over 17 points in two series. The promising young forward struggled to begin this season, before being shut down after nine games and undergoing back surgery for the third time since 2017. Though there was some optimism that he could return as well, it appears the team will treat his rehab process the same as Murray's and steer clear of bringing him back too quickly.

Despite missing two starters for the better part of this season, the Nuggets have continued to stay afloat in the Western Conference, largely on the shoulders of Nikola Jokic. Last year's MVP has strung together an arguably better season this year, averaging an unfathomable 28 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists, while also becoming the first player ever to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season. 

The team has also leaned heavily on backup point guard Monte Morris and veteran forward Jeff Green, who have excelled for the Nuggets in starting roles. Though their roster may not have the same firepower and offensive production it did with a healthy Murray and Porter Jr., they have done enough to solidify a playoff position and could make some noise if their experienced group manages to matchup against one of the less experienced postseason teams in Dallas or Memphis. 

Barring any setbacks, Denver will be firing on all cylinders come next season with Murray and Porter Jr. back in the mix. We've seen what the Nuggets are capable of when fully healthy, and should expect them to return to championship-contending form.

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