Many believe Michael Porter Jr. could have gone a lot higher in this year's NBA Draft if it wasn't for his lingering problems with his back.
Porter was predicted by some to go first overall in the draft, but due to health problems limiting him to just three appearances in his only season at Missouri, he fell to the Denver Nuggets at 14th overall.
The rookie underwent a microdiscectomy in November 2017 that repaired one of two bulging disks in his back. He underwent a second spinal surgery last month, but the Nuggets never announced a timetable for his return.
Speaking to ESPN on Sunday at the NBA's annual rookie photo shoot, the new Nuggets star says he's pain-free following his second surgery and that he's keeping his fingers crossed that he's back on the court near the start of the 2018-19 season.
Porter said: "I finally feel, like, good," and he is hoping to be ready for game action around the time the season tips in mid-October.
"I don't have a date but I'm hoping to be back for the beginning of the year. Gotta heal up, but I feel great. I'm able to get on the court a little bit right now, do some different things.
"But my rehab has definitely been very conservative. They're really taking it easy with me, being patient with me."
Porter stated that he had second back surgery in order to get rid of all the issues he had before the start of his rookie season with the Nuggets.
He said: "[Doctors originally] only thought one of [the bulging disks] was symptomatic. They went in and fixed that one. Turns out that both were symptomatic.
"So my first surgery helped a lot but didn't fix the entire problem. Now that they did this one, I've got no pain or anything. I'm excited."
Porter will be keeping his fingers crossed that he can play in the Nuggets' season opener at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers on October 17.
CLICK HERE to listen to Episode Two of the new GiveMeSport NBA podcast, featuring New York Times senior writer Marc Stein. Subscribe for all future episodes.News Now - Sport News