We have all heard the rumblings, especially in the first four games. "Is Kevin Porter Jr. a point guard"? "Should the Rockets move Porter Jr to small forward"? These are valid questions but not four games into the new season and only less than 30 games total as the starting point guard.
The Houston Rockets acquired Porter Jr. in a trade where they sent a heavily protected second-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the Rockets felt Porter Jr. was better suited for the point guard position almost from day one. Therefore, they immediately assigned Porter Jr. to their G-League affiliated Rio Grande Valley Vipers to play point exclusively.
During his time with the Vipers, Porter Jr. thrived at the point guard position. However, keep in mind he only played 15 games for the Vipers, so if you total his time with the Vipers and the Rockets as a starting point guard, he hasn't even played half an NBA season at the point.
During his time with the Vipers, he averaged 24.1 ppg, 7.2 assists, and 6.5 rebounds. Then, in March, he joined the Rockets, but still had to share the point guard duties with John Wall for almost a month before the Rockets shut down Wall for the season. Playing point guard is like being a quarterback in the NFL. You are the leader on offense, you orchestrate every play and handle the ball more than anyone else.
Imagine an NFL player going from wide receiver to quarterback two years into the NFL? Yes, I understand it's different sports, but the concept is the same. You go from the player receiving the ball to the player who has to get the ball to everyone else. It's not an easy transition for anyone, especially a 21-year-old who has constantly received passes and is now the one doing the passing.
We saw growing pains last year, as Porter Jr. started to learn the nuances of the position, at times being hesitant and not sure where to go with the ball. NBA players know when other players are not certain of themselves especially point guards. They then increase the pressure on the ball handler, which leads to more turnovers. Also, at times last year, how special Porter Jr.
Porter Jr. had a historic night in one of the best games you will see from any player, let alone a player in his second year. In a late-season game vs. the Bucks, Porter Jr. put up 50 points and 11 assists to lead the Rockets to the win.
Porter Jr. became the fourth player in NBA history to have a 50-point game before turning 21. This while being guarded by one of the best defenders in the league Jrue Holiday for most of the game. Of course, this won't be the norm, and he will continue to have some struggles as he grows into the position, but this shows what Porter Jr. is capable of on a high level.
So far, it has been an up-and-down season through four games for Porter Jr. He is averaging 14 points, 6 assists, and 6.5 turnovers. In last night's game, Porter Jr. turned the ball over four times in the first half but only twice in the second. This is the type of up and down it will be for Porter Jr. until he gets more time on the court.
Maybe Porter Jr. never becomes the ideal point guard and is eventually moved to small forward. On the other hand, maybe Porter Jr. turns into a top-five point guard. Only time will tell. One thing for sure, it is too early to write off Porter Jr. He hasn't even started half an NBA season at this point. Rockets and their fans need to be patient with the young guard and let the chips fall where they may.