The Cleveland Cavaliers made the biggest steal of the 2019 NBA Draft in getting Kevin Porter Jr.
Kevin Porter Jr. was one of the most interesting prospects in the 2019 NBA Draft. An underwhelming season with USC didn’t stop KPJ from being projected as a lottery pick. When the Cleveland Cavaliers had a chance to acquire him at the end of the first round, it was an opportunity they couldn’t pass it up.
This four-star recruit ranked 40th in ESPN’s national high school list. Porter was set for an exciting freshman season with USC, only to be relegated to a bench role early in the season. His limited role restricted his production as KPJ finished the year averaging just 9.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 22.1 minutes a game.
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Still, scouts were aware of the incredible potential behind Porter’s game. An athletic combo-guard with the ability to defend multiple positions and finish around the rim makes for an exciting prospect.
Furthermore, Porter has all of the building blocks needed to become an efficient playmaker and shooter. He shot a clean 41.2 percent from deep as a freshman and has shown a knack for making the correct pass.
Porter was named the 2019 NBA Draft’s “biggest steal” in the annual rookie survey. It’s clear that his peers believed in KPJ’s potential, but will he live up to the hype through season one?
Thus far, we have seen an overwhelming amount of evidence pointing towards a positive career for KPJ. In his preseason debut, Porter shot 7-of-9 from the field as he scored 16 points off of the bench. He showed us a glimpse of his athleticism and how smoothly he can act in transition.
The Cavaliers did a great job of having Porter play off of the ball, receiving timely passes on backdoor cuts. This led to easy buckets for Porter as his touch and creativity around the rim proved to be too much for San Lorenzo.
Against NBA-level competition, the initial results were mixed, as Porter played 12 minutes in Friday’s 109-105 preseason loss to the Detroit Pistons, finishing with four points on 2-of-6 shooting to go with one rebound.
The Cavaliers will rely on Porter to be a spark plug with the second unit and there aren’t a lot of conclusions that can be drawn from a 12-minute sample size.
Scoring is Porter’s best skill right now. Therefore, coach John Beilein will look to put Porter in a position to focus solely on scoring. There will not be much pressure on Porter to do anything besides what he is comfortable doing.
This doesn’t mean that Porter won’t be developing other aspects of his game. As the season goes on, we should see him improve as a defender, shooter and playmaker. For now, it’s best to take baby steps with this young rookie.
By the end of the year, it’s possible that KPJ will be receiving consistent minutes in the rotation. At his peak, he could enter the starting lineup as a complimentary forward to the backcourt duo of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.
Porter offers a sense of versatility that the Cavaliers have been lacking. His size and strength make him capable of playing the guard or forward position. If he blooms into a solid defender, he will be pivotal in anchoring Cleveland’s perimeter defense.
The Cavaliers certainly landed a good one in KPJ. If he receives proper development, Porter will be well on his way to a prosperous career.