1. Michael Porter Jr. Wins Rookie of the Year
Blake Griffin and Ben Simmons are each phenomenal NBA players and were phenomenal since the day they stepped foot in the NBA. While they were each voted as the Rookie of the Year in their respective rookie seasons, there was a bit of controversy on their eligibility for the award. Griffin and Simmons were drafted in 2009 and 2016 respectively, yet they won their awards in 2011 and 2018.
Despite being drafted the year prior, Griffin and Simmons each missed the entirety of their draft year due to injury allowing themselves an extra 365 days to practice against NBA competition, bond with their teammates, and learn the ins and outs of professional basketball. This extra year gave them a leg up on their technical rookie year and Michael Porter Jr. could be the next guy to follow in their footsteps.
I was extremely high on Michael Porter heading into the 2018 NBA Draft, ranking him as the fourth pick in my final mock draft that year. Nobody knew what to expect from Porter in the NBA, as he only played in three college games his freshman year at Missouri recovering from back surgery. He also decided not to attend pre-draft workouts as he didn’t feel physically ready to essentially play good enough to earn himself a job.
Unfortunately, a knee sprain held him out of the Summer League this season, so aside from a few grainy clips of Nuggets’ practices, the last we’ve seen from Michael Porter Jr. on the court is from high school. While none of us know for sure what to expect from Porter, he is in the perfect situation to come in and make an immediate impact.
Playing on the Denver Nuggets, Porter has an opportunity to play substantial minutes on a team who could be fighting for homecourt advantage in the playoffs this season. While the Nuggets are an amazing team lead by young stars: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, they still lack a guy who can take over the game in the fourth quarter and score at will. If Porter turns out anywhere near where is scouting reports say he could be, Zion Williamson might have some serious competition for the Rookie of the Year award.
2. Terry Rozier Makes his First All-Star Game
Earlier this offseason, Terry Rozier signed a three year, $58 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets as part of a sign-and-trade for Kemba Walker. Unfortunately for Rozier, NBA fans have continuously ranked the Rozier signing as potentially the worst move of the offseason.
On the surface, they may be right; it was a massive risk for Michael Jordan and the Hornets’ front office. They just spent nearly $20 million a season for the next three years on a player who hasn’t ever been much more than a bench player. What people are forgetting, however, is that when Rozier plays as a starter, he plays like a legitimate number one option.
Who else remembers when Terry Rozier was the most popular athlete in the world for about a week? While you may not remember, Eric Bledsoe sure does, whether he cares to admit it or not. In the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs, the Kyrie Irving-less Boston Celtics were taking on the Milwaukee Bucks and newly acquired Eric Bledsoe. Following the second game of the series, the Celtics held a two-game series lead, but more importantly, Terry Rozier held a 25 point lead over Eric Bledsoe.
At the time, Terry Rozier kind of looked like a draft bust. He was a lottery pick just two years earlier and he was forced onto the bench playing behind two all-star level point guards (Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas). Rozier finally got a chance to show the world what he was made of and he ran with the opportunity. Bledsoe tried to backhand him with an, “I don’t even know who the **** he is,” type comment, but Rozier got the last laugh, as the Celtics beat the Bucks in seven games.
After that playoff series that saw Rozier average 18 points and 7 assists with 38% shooting from three-point land against one of the best defensive guards in the NBA, he was once again relegated to the bench. When Terry Rozier leads a team, good things tend to happen, so who’s to say he can’t average around 23 points and 6 assists. With D’Angelo Russell playing in the west and Kyle Lowry only getting older, who’s to say that statline wouldn’t find Terry Rozier in the all-star game this season? Michael Jordan; I believe in you.