Welcome to one of the more controversial Houston Rockets player previews of the season: Kevin Porter Jr.
The controversy surrounding Porter tends to boil down to these things:
- Personal Maturity
- Overlap of Skills With Jalen Green
- Whether to Extend His Contract
- How Much To Pay When Extending His Contract
- Flaws In His Game
There are a few things that don’t seem to be mentioned as much:
- Development Level For Age
Let’s go through the controversial items first.
- Personal Maturity - Yes, there have been past incidents with Kevin Porter Jr., these tend to revolve around emotional outbursts. It’s important to remember, all these have been unfortunate, but nothing violent (I guess a bowl of mashed potatoes or whatever is violent...), dangerous, abusive, or criminal. More the sort of thing that offends our notion of proper behavior as an athlete. My position is, young men grow up, and most of these problems center around caring too much, rather than not enough. I’m not especially worried.
- Overlap of Skills - Are we still invested in traditional position roles or not? Did Harden break that mold forever, or not? If we really do believe in largely position-less basketball, with say Backcourt, Wing, Big, then what exactly is the problem with two scoring, distribution, explosive, guards that can play on or off ball? Neither Porter nor Green truly need a point guard to set them up, and if they do need that, well, that’s what Alperen Sengun can do from the high post. I’ll admit it’s useful to have certain specialty players around, brawny defending, rebounding big, or pass-first offense organizer, but with Porter that’s not really what he’s meant to do anyway.
- Whether to extend Porter Jr. contract. This is a question of, do I want to risk locking up money now, or risk locking up potentially a lot more money, in the off-season when other teams have tons of money. A player who in the traditional reference can play PG/SG/SF with good defense and shooting, is valuable. Look at how much money a player, inferior in my estimation, like Tyler Herro got. If you don’t think the 2021-22 NBA best catch-and-shoot 3pt shooter is getting a good offer, I don’t know what to tell you.
- How much to pay. If there’s a deal $25 million per season or under available now, the Rockets should do it, in my opinion. It’ll seem cheap in a year or so. The NBA Mid Level Exception is probably heading for $15 million. Expecting a starter level player, who can plausibly run an offense or score off-ball to play for backup center money, the $10 million many Rockets fans have talked about, seems simply ludicrous to me. If Porter is a RFA, I can’t imagine offers under $20-$25 million, barring an implosion of some sort, or serious injury. If you think he’s better, with more upside, than Evan Fournier, the number is north of $20 million.
- Flaws In His Game. The biggest flaw is an inability to finish consistently at the rim. Porter needs to find a reliable attack at the basket, and stick with it until it’s working, because he has the handle to get there, unlike most guys. KPJ has the talent to try all sorts of finishes, but none of those are NBA starter level. He should also see if James Harden and DeMar DeRozan would admit him to their Body School, where he can learn how to draw productive contact while making shots. That’s really the only scary flaw, other than him not being a pass-first type, despite averaging 7.1 assists per36. He could cut down on turnovers as well, but a better team, and maturity, is probably going to see him cut turnovers by 1 per game, in my view. He also seems to pick up injuries, but how much of that is a tanking Rockets team making sure he has plenty of recovery time is unclear.
Here are the strengths of Porter’s game, to me:
Versatility - Porter is currently the Rockets “PG”. He’s big enough, with enough game, to be a “SF”. He can play off ball no problem. 7 assists per 36 is no joke, either.
Defense - Porter seems only to show one or two skills at a time. That’s probably a flaw, but let’s see if he can put all the skills he owns together at the same time. He’s still only 22, and made a position change, in the midst of his other career chaos. KPJ’s defense has varied between “adequate” and “outstanding”. A season doing everything else, and keeping defense at “good” level would be enough.
Catch-And-Shoot 3pt Shot. - Elite. NBA best 48.2% - better than every single NBA player who is a plausible starter with real volume on catch and shoot three point shots. Better than Trae Young, Anfernee Simons, Seth Curry, whomever. Not by much, but did you know he was THAT good?
What To Do?
This poll is closed
Extend Now If You Can.
Don’t extend now.
Match RFA offers.
Don’t Match RFA offers.
Keep On Dithering.