Heading into his freshman season at the University of Missouri, Michael Porter Jr. was a consensus top-five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, with some experts pegging him somewhere in the top three. But his college career was essentially cut short after a bulging disc in his back required a microdiscectomy procedure that limited him to just three games: One at the beginning of the season in which he played for two minutes, then losses in the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

Despite his enormous talent and potential, it was inevitable that some teams would be wary of drafting him amid his health concerns. However, few expected him to fall all the way to No. 14 to the Denver Nuggets. A second surgery in July raised even more concerns, but Porter says he’s pain free and ready to start his NBA career on a talented young team that is a trendy pick to make some noise in the Western Conference.

We caught up with Porter, and the 20-year-old rookie told us about shooting his first commercial with Autotrader, what it felt like to be able to buy his mom a new car, his favorite books, and why he hasn’t modeled his game after any one specific NBA player.

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