Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr. says he is cleared to play, hopes to debut at Summer League

Michael Porter Jr. says he feels “good” and is ready to play.

Porter, the 14th overall pick in the 2018 draft, has yet to play a minute for the Nuggets after dealing with a nagging back injury. But on Monday, following the team’s Western Conference semifinal loss to Portland, he told media he has been cleared to play and is expected to debut in the Summer League, which begins July 5.

“My back doesn’t hurt anymore, and I feel good,” Porter said, via the Denver Post. “Really, I want to show that I’m back, I’m feeling good, I’m ready to play, and everything’s good.”

Porter’s struggles date back to his only year at Missouri.

In the season opener, he suffered a lower back injury that required surgery. He was expected to miss the entire season but was cleared to play in the SEC and the NCAA tournaments.

However, his health continued to be a concern, affecting both his draft stock and eventually his rookie year.

Nearly a month after Porter was drafted by Denver, he underwent back surgery and never played in the 2018-19 season.

“To be honest, going into the season, I didn’t really expect myself to be able to play,” Porter said. “The way I feel now is leaps and bounds beyond where I thought I’d be at this point. Obviously, I feel good. I worked hard every day with these guys and I feel like I’m a better player than I’ve ever been.”

Porter added: “I had tough days. Every day, you’ve got to just have positive energy going in there, work your hardest. … It’s hard, day to day, seeing progress every day.

“But looking back, month to month, it’s crazy how far I’ve come. So it’s exciting.”