If Michael Porter Jr. is looking for a reference point as to how adjusting his game on the basketball court might feel, it’s feasible he can lean on his transition from being a vegetarian to eating some meat.
Here’s the story. The vegetarian story.
Porter Jr. had been a vegetarian his entire life. But one day during last season he found himself at the popular Denver breakfast spot, Snooze.
“I ordered some food,” said Porter Jr. in an interview with Altitude Sports, “and they brought out some bacon.”
He tried it.
“There was no going back,” he said, smiling wide. “It was just so good.”
His stomach didn’t hurt after his maiden voyage as a meat-eater. So, he gave eating chicken wings a go, and, he said laughing, “it was downhill from there.”
For purposes of adding quality weight – he’s put on 14-15 pounds in the last year – chicken and fish were introduced as regulars into his diet by the Nuggets sports performance staff. And, as he gets set to begin his first on-court season with the Nuggets, he’ll need the extra bulk.
As he’s had to adjust his diet to fit his new nutritional reality, Porter Jr. also knows he needs to learn how to operate differently on the court. He’s currently working on that.
Throughout his basketball life, Porter Jr. has been the player with the ball with full autonomy on how each of his team’s offensive possessions would go. That changes on a team that has a first-team All-NBA player in center Nikola Jokic, one of the brightest up-and-comers in guard Jamal Murray, and a host of other players who are battle tested in the NBA.
Porter Jr. will play off the ball almost all the time.
“My role is going to be different playing with Nikola, playing with Paul (Millsap), playing with Jamal, Gary (Harris), all these guys who are very good players and can put the ball in the basket,” Porter Jr. said. “I don’t have to rely so much on my scoring. For me, it’s a lot on the defensive end, rebounding, pushing and making plays for others. Learning to be effective and help improve this team, because we are a great team.
“Whatever I can do to elevate the team.”
How challenging will that be?
“For me, it’s learning how to play without the ball,” he said. “I’m a big target on the floor, so learning how to cut when guys are driving, finish at the rim and be ready to catch and shoot. And just finding my spots. There will be opportunities to push the ball in transition, get some shots. But, I just have to take my spots, be a knock-down shooter, move without the ball which is something the coaches have really been harping on me (about). And be comfortable doing that.”
Yet, Porter says there haven’t been any restrictions put on where he takes his shots.
“The coaches, I love these guys because they don’t want to try to put me in a box,” he said. “They are trying to see my game and where I feel comfortable and try to utilize that.”
After a disappointing summer league in which he was eager to play but ultimately did not due to a knee injury, Porter Jr. insists he’s fully healthy and ready to roll for Nuggets training camp, which starts Oct. 1 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
He’s been a regular participant in open gym pick-up games with teammates, which have been happening throughout the month of September.
“I’m just really excited,” Porter Jr. said. “It’s been a good last few weeks. In the gym, we’ve been getting runs in, everybody’s been here except Juancho (Hernangomez) and Nikola. So, we’re all getting used to playing with each other. And they’ve all been great runs, very competitive. We’ve got a lot of great players. So, I’m really looking forward to training camp and just locking in on this last week before then.”