What’s exceptional for one 3-point shooter might best be described as pedestrian for Nuggets sniper Michael Porter Jr.
Over the last 10 games, Porter’s connected on 38% of his 3-point looks. Narrow that down to within the last six, and that number drops to 33%. For a guy with stated designs on shooting 50% from 3-point range, Porter’s recent shooting qualifies as a mini-slump.
At 6-foot-10, Porter has a different standard than his peers. Prior to his minor cold spell, open 3-pointers were more automatic for Porter than anyone else on the team.
Asked at Tuesday’s shootaround whether any hesitation had begun to creep into his mind, Porter responded like a guy who’d never missed a shot.
“Yeah, I think I’m gonna keep shooting,” he said slowly as if there was no alternative.
To his credit, he’s established a substitute approach when his shot isn’t meeting expectations.
Porter said he’s intentionally attacked his defensive closeouts, aware that the defenders are charging hard at him. In another sign of growth, he said he’s doing whatever he can to impact the game positively. That could include setting a down-screen that frees up another shooter. It might mean cutting hard to draw attention, opening up an open shot for a teammate. Those moments show up on film even if they don’t resonate in the box score. Porter’s bought into the idea that he can help the team in myriad ways.
In taking a much more holistic approach to his game, Porter said he’s watched how long defenders like Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo defended the perimeter and tried to imitate their spacing.
As Porter recovers from his lingering heel injury, he admitted that his nerve injury, which prompted last season’s back surgery, is improving, too. The athleticism he has now, he said, isn’t close to where he’ll be by the season’s end.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone recently praised Porter’s willingness to play within the team construct. Alongside two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, potential All-Star Aaron Gordon and a percolating Jamal Murray, occasionally, Porter can get lost in the offense.
On a team that’s won 16 of its last 19 games, Porter said he’s got no problem with how he’s been deployed this season.
“With as many good players as we have, it’s going to take a degree of sacrifice from a lot of us, so I’m perfectly fine with playing my role or whatever’s best for the team,” he said.
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