Today in Fear the Sword’s season hiatus player review series: Rookie bright spot Kevin Porter Jr. Follow the whole series here and apologies for the delay.
Key per game stats: 50 games played, 10 points, 2.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds per game. 44.2 FG%, 33.5 3P%,
Key advanced stats: 53.5 TS%, -0.07 D-PIPM
There is no one way to build a contender in today’s NBA. But one common trend with the league’s best teams is finding and developing players deep in the draft. It may only be half a season, but Kevin Porter Jr. has already shown enough potential to see why the Cavs wanted to trade for him and paid a record amount of money for his pick.
One of the first thing that jumps out when you watch him play is his athleticism. His physical tools had him projected as a possible lottery pick, but whether or not he would be able to harness them caused him to fall.
The Cavs took a patient approach with Porter to start this season. His offense was uneven, but the way he began to earn minutes was his effort on the defensive end of the floor. Occasionally overzealous and prone to fouls, his early season mistakes were at least in an effort to do the right things.
As time went on, it became harder and harder to keep Porter off the floor. His effort on defense, especially relative to the other wings on the team, along with his ability to explode offensively continued to earn him time.
Consistency will be the biggest thing for him as he moves forward in his career. The steady improvement throughout the season and the way he’s picked up so many nuances of the NBA game is cause for excitement.
Porter Jr. represents the first legitimate two-way wing the Cavs have drafted since the theory of Andrew Wiggins. At just 19, he has the second best D-PIPM on the team behind Larry Nance Jr., has shown he can be a willing passer and a high-level ability to create his own shot.
Cleaning up his shooting form is something that’s going to take time. The release point is already a little higher than it was in college, but there’s still too much movement prior to the shot. Until then his offensive game is likely going to remain somewhat streaky.
While the Cavs haven’t always been the most stable environment, they have done a good job developing Porter Jr. through one (almost) season. Maybe that’s a testament to his work ethic, that he would have succeeded everywhere. But throughout the season he has shown improvements in almost every area, while also becoming noticeably stronger.
Going from a flier at the end of the first round to an important part of Cleveland’s rebuild is a great start to the NBA career of Kevin Porter Jr. If next season happens, it’ll be exciting to see what growth he is able to accomplish during an extended offseason.