One reason to be optimistic about the Denver Nuggets heading into the postseason is Michael Porter Jr.'s ascent during the 2020-21 campaign.
An anonymous NBA scout told Josh Robbins and Sam Amick of The Athletic that Porter is "one of the up-and-coming stars in the league."
Porter's raw talent was as high as any player in the 2018 draft, but uncertainty about his health after a back injury at Missouri caused him to fall to Denver with the 14th pick.
After sitting out the entire 2018-19 season, the 6'10" small forward played sparingly last year. He showed potential with 9.3 points on 50.9 percent shooting and 4.7 rebounds per game in 55 appearances.
Coming into this year fully healthy, Porter took a massive step forward. The 22-year-old ranked third on the Nuggets with 19.0 points per game and finished ninth in the league with a 44.5 three-point percentage.
Porter's size and scoring ability have drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant.
Nikola Jokic is the presumptive MVP for this season and capable of lifting Denver's floor on his own, but the team will need a second star to step up going into the playoffs.
With Jamal Murray out for the playoffs after tearing his ACL during an April 12 game against the Golden State Warriors, the Nuggets need Porter to take his game to another level if they want to make a deep run.
The third-seeded Nuggets will play the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.