Kevin Porter Jr. will be the Houston Rockets’ MVP next season. Yes, you heard that right; most versatile player. Even with his role shifting from starting point guard to sixth man, Porter Jr. will be the Rockets’ most versatile weapon.
The previous three seasons have seen the Rockets and KPJ try one of the hardest things any team can do, which is trying to transform a player who was not a point guard into the franchise's floor general. The results have been mixed.
Yes, Kevin Porter Jr. has had his down moments struggling to get the ball to the right players at the right moments, over dribbling and with turnovers. However, he has shown flashes of a player with point guard skills and can run an offense in a pinch.
With the signing of Fred VanVleet, the Rockets have signaled that there will be a new floor leader, but that doesn't mean Porter Jr.'s role on the team has gotten smaller and less significant. His role on the team will be more significant than it ever has been. Here are three reasons why KPJ will be the Rockets’ MVP (that is the most versatile player).
His ability to play multiple positions
Even with the Rockets adding more talent this season, they dont have many players who can play multiple positions at an average or high level. Fred VanVleet can play some shooting guard, but he is primarily a point guard. Although it may change next season, Jalen Green doesn't have good enough handles or court vision yet to play point guard and is not strong enough to play small forward.
Dillon Brooks can play some small-ball four in a crunch, but he is not big enough to play consistent minutes there. Jabari Smith is not fast enough to play significant minutes at small forward but may play some minutes at the backup five. Alperen Sengun is not a good enough shooter to play anything outside of center. That leaves Porter Jr., who can play point guard, of course. He is the Rockets’ best shooter (more on that later), so he can play shooting guard, and at 6'5 or 6'6, depending on who you ask, he has the height and strength to play small forward as well.
That flexibility is crucial for a team who doesn't have a true backup shooting guard, a rookie at backup point guard in Amen Thompson, and with the departure of KJ Martin Jr, a hole at the backup small forward. KPJ is the only player on the team who can play three different positions for significant minutes at an average or above-average level.
His playmaking will still be needed
Even with the Rockets bringing over VanVleet drafting Amen Thompson, the Rockets will still need his playmaking ability. Amen may eventually be the best point guard on the team, but he is still a rookie, and unless he has a remarkable rookie season, KPJ will still be the Rockets’ second-best. VanVleet has improved as a playmaker over the years, but that is not his best attribute. People who cover the Raptors say FVV is more of a combo guard and not necessarily a prototypical point guard.
Having another player with experience at point guard coming off the bench is a huge benefit on a team that lacks playmakers.
He is still the Rockets’ best shooter
Last season, KPJ was the Rockets best catch and shooter, best from the left corner, best mid-range shooter and second above break. Surprisingly enough, Sengun is first on low volume, but still. The Rockets didn't do anything particular to address those issues. Yes, VanVleet is a decent shooter, but he isn't a knockdown shooter.
Even with all the additions, Porter Jr. is easily the Rockets’ best shooter. On a team that has been at the bottom of the league in shooting for years and still lacks quality shooting, having KPJ come off more screens and pin-downs without the burden of having to set up the offense could see Porter Jr.’s shooting percentage increase next season. His shooting may sometimes lead him to finish games and, as mentioned earlier, play a vital role even as a bench player.
Porter Jr. is the bridge between the young Rockets and the now-veteran part of the team. The ability to play multiple positions, still be a playmaker and be the team's best shooter will make KPJ the Rockets’ most versatile player next season.
You can also check out Why Kevin Porter Jr. will be the Rockets MVP next season on my YouTube page!