Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. underwent surgery for his lower back, the team announced Wednesday. While Denver listed Porter as out indefinitely, its rising star is expected to miss the remainder of the season, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. This is a huge blow for a Nuggets team that is already down Jamal Murray and P.J. Dozier -- both due to a torn ACL.
The Porter injury comes after Denver originally listed his injury as lower back soreness, with head coach Michael Malone saying earlier in the month Porter would be out for the "foreseeable future."
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This is obviously worrisome news considering Porter's history of back issues. He missed most of his lone collegiate season at Missouri after undergoing back surgery, and during the pre-draft process, a doctor for the Los Angeles Clippers said that Porter "probably wouldn't play again."
While Porter proved that prediction wrong, those sorts of concerns were widely shared at the time, which is why he fell all the way to the Nuggets at No. 14 in the 2018 draft despite being one of the class's most talented prospects. He also needed another back surgery which kept him out for his entire rookie season in the NBA.
He has largely been healthy since then, but during the team's win over the Houston Rockets last weekend, he came up limping after missing a breakaway layup. It's not clear exactly what happened, but he didn't get any lift as he tried to go to the rim, and left the game a short time later.
Though this is incredibly detrimental to a Nuggets team that had hopes of making a long playoff run this season, ensuring that Porter will be healthy in the long run is the bigger goal here, especially after he signed a five-year, $172 million deal in the offseason.
Prior to the injury Porter was off to a rough start this season, averaging 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds on 35.9 percent shooting from the field and 20.8 percent from 3-point range through nine games. Although he was struggling, he was still an incredibly important piece to Denver's offense, especially in the absence of Murray. Now with both Murray and Porter out, the Nuggets will lean on the reigning MVP in Jokic even more to try and carry this team through a loaded Western Conference for the rest of the season.