Rockets fans, please move past the Caris LeVert non-trade
2. LeVert would have made Houston Rockets star Kevin Porter useless
Perhaps one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Rockets’ lost 2020-21 season has been emerging star Kevin Porter Jr., who was dealt to the franchise after a falling out with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Porter Jr. has used the season as a developmental opportunity, while also embracing the new point guard role that Rockets coach Stephen Silas has asked him to play.
Porter Jr. took the G-League by storm in his first display of taking on the facilitator role, averaging 24.1 points on 58.2 percent true shooting, while also dishing out 7.3 assists and nabbing 6.4 rebounds. Many questioned whether Porter was so successful because of the drop off in talent in the G-League, which hails in comparison to the NBA.
However, Porter has quelled those skeptics, as he’s averaged nearly 16 points, 6.4 assists, and 4 assists, which are all improvements over his 2019-20 campaign in the NBA. At just 20 years old, Porter has a much higher ceiling than LeVert at this stage of their careers.
The Rockets would have had no reason to add Porter Jr if they acquired LeVert, as it would have given them a guard quartet of John Wall, Eric Gordon, Caris LeVert, and Porter (not to mention D.J. Augustin, who they acquired later in a deal for P.J. Tucker). Finding minutes for each of these players in the long run would have been difficult, to put it politely.
Even if the Rockets did decide to still make a move for Porter, he would get significantly less touches with LeVert on the roster, considering how the Rockets have decided to utilize Porter.
Not to mention the fact that both LeVert and Porter are fairly young, with Porter being just 20-years-old and LeVert being just 26. For as much talk as we’ve heard about LeVert being a franchise cornerstone, what’s gone missed is how Porter Jr. is just as capable of being the same, as he has more natural talent than LeVert and is averaging nearly the same number of assists in just his first season running point and while also being surrounded by significantly less than LeVert.
Then there’s also the salary angle, as Porter is owed just $5 million for the next two seasons combined, before he becomes a restricted free agent in 2023. With significantly higher upside at six years younger, while also being much cheaper than LeVert, the Houston Rockets are much better off with Porter than LeVert, and we wouldn’t have seen Porter in the same role if LeVert was on the roster.
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