Kiz vs. Singer: How would Michael Porter Jr.’s return impact the Nuggets’ stretch run?

Kiz: Well, well, well. For more than a month, we’ve been telling the NBA world that Michael Porter Jr. could return from back surgery and play for the Nuggets by April 1. Skeptics regarded us as foolish optimists. But there’s now reason to believe MPJ could be back in the game sometime in March. Give me a realistic evaluation of how big a push he could give to the Nuggets’ late-season surge? Is homecourt advantage in the opening round of the playoffs too much to ask?

Singer: The Nuggets opened Monday 2 1/2 games behind Utah for the No. 4 seed. They’re effectively tied with Dallas for the No. 5 seed. With 21 games left, homecourt advantage in the first round is very much in play. Yes, the Nuggets would love to host a first-round series, but here’s the dirty little secret. Whether they climb two spots in the standings or not, the Nuggets are already a team no one wants to face in the postseason. Joker creates havoc in his own right, but give him a 6-foot-10 flamethrower to sprinkle around the 3-point line, and all that help defense he’s been seeing suddenly becomes thinner than a teenage Kiszla.

Kiz: The beauty in MPJ’s return could well be the simplicity of its execution. He’s a pure shooter, and in a game that often comes down to make or miss, what NBA team couldn’t use more of what Porter provides? I don’t see him regaining a starting role until next season. I want MPJ coming off the bench for as long as the Nuggets stay alive in the playoffs, playing 20 minutes a game, spacing the floor and getting so hot on any given night that opposing defenders can do little except shrug and offer respect.

Singer: Speaking of respect Mr. Top 10 Columnist in the Country, I’m gonna disagree. Jeff Green has been one of the unsung heroes of the Nuggets’ season. At 35 years old, the Nuggets never envisioned starting him 45 games this season. He’s done more than anyone could’ve asked for. But get me Porter back in the starting lineup. Get me someone to decrease the workload for Jokic. You were in Phoenix with me last season when Joker’s “empty” light started flashing. I don’t know which forward gets bumped from the rotation – either one of the Greens or the rejuvenated Boogie Cousins – but pair Porter with Jokic and you’ll reap the rewards.

Kiz: The only downside I see to the return of MPJ is increased grumpiness from JaMychal Green, as he could be forced to take a seat at the end of Denver’s bench. The biggest challenge any NBA coach encounters in his locker room often results from establishing a playing rotation that can satisfy the egos of highly competitive athletes. So I see the push for the No. 4 seed in the West as not nearly as important as the Nuggets being a happy crew supremely confident it can be huge trouble for any foe, from Phoenix to Memphis, in the playoffs.

Singer: You’ve correctly identified Malone’s hardest job once MPJ comes back. I don’t know how you accommodate so many veterans who deserve to play. Can Malone stomach benching Boogie? What is the impact of yanking JaMychal Green, one of the anchors of the second unit, from the rotation? These are the so-called good problems that deep teams want yet deep teams also have to deal with. Just for fun, I’m hoping we get a jumbo lineup of both Greens and Cousins all playing together. Because if not, there’s going to be some hurt feelings in the locker room come April.

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