Porter is in a slump.

The Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat will meet in Game 3 of the 2023 NBA Finals at Miami’s Amway Center on Monday (Jan. 8).

Denver, which has been in the NBA since the 1976-1977 season, is in the Finals for the first time since its inception this season. The Nuggets are looking to make amends with their first championship in franchise history.메이저사이트

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have been two of the biggest contributors to Denver’s run to the Finals. Jokic is averaging a triple-double this playoffs with 30.4 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 10.1 assists, while Murray has been as good as any ace in the game with 27.0 points.

In addition to the duo, Denver has one other player on a maximum salary. That’s forward Michael Porter Jr. Porter signed a five-year max contract with Denver in autumn 2021 after his third season. Many thought it was too much of a risk, but Denver believed in his potential.

Last season, his first full year under contract, Porter was limited to nine games due to a back injury that caused many to worry. Even before his NBA debut, Porter had a history of back problems and underwent major surgery.

This season, back on the court and under control, he averaged 17.4 points on 48.4 per cent shooting from the field and 41.4 per cent from three-point range in 62 games, helping the team earn the No. 1 seed. While his numbers were down slightly from before he signed his max contract, it’s hard to give him a failing grade considering it was his first season back from a major injury.

Since returning to the playoffs, Porter has averaged 14.0 points and 8.2 rebounds in 17 games. He’s shown improvement on defence, which has been his fatal weakness, but his offensive presence is quite disappointing considering his salary and the potential he’s shown so far.

The rollercoaster-like shooting ups and downs have continued into the playoffs.

He averages great stats, shooting nearly 50 per cent from the field and 40 per cent from three-point range, but when you look deeper into his game, his shooting touch varies from game to game. It’s been said that Denver’s championship hinges on the ups and downs of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr, and fans are familiar with Porter’s flailing instincts.

In the Finals, Porter’s pace slowed to a crawl. After not being listened to in Game 1, he struggled in Game 2, scoring just five points in 26 minutes. In the two games combined, he made just three 3-pointers on 17 attempts.

Michael Porter Jr. Finals performance
Averaged 9.5 points and 9.5 rebounds 29.2 per cent shooting from the field 17.6 per cent from three-point range

A vocal and colourful player who is not shy about criticising coaches’ tactics and player selection, Porter’s shot selection is one of the most unique in the NBA. He’s not afraid to take tough shots, and often takes them in unpredictable situations.

As a result, when he’s having a good shooting night, you’re left wondering, “How did he get that shot in?” and when he’s having a bad night, he’s completely hurting his team’s offence.

This season, Porter shot 13.2 three-pointers per game while dishing out just 1.0 assists. The focus is on his overall offence, his shooting, rather than his ability to help his teammates. When an offence that relies heavily on tough shots doesn’t work out, his contribution is bound to drop significantly.

Porter’s struggles have led some to suggest that Bruce Brown, who can cut in and contribute on defence, should be used more. Indeed, Porter’s minutes have dropped noticeably from 43 in Game 1 to 26 in Game 2.

With a tough two-game road trip ahead of them, Denver could see the series swing back in Miami’s favour if Porter’s absence is prolonged. Regardless, Porter is one of the key options in Denver’s offence, and whether or not he rebounds will be a key point in the series.

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