Friday night’s game was a rough one for Kevin Porter Jr., as we were reminded of his youth, inexperience, and need for continued growth and development. The Houston Rockets guard went just 1-of-9 from the field and missed all of his 3-point attempts, finishing with 4 points on the night.
Granted, Porter has struggled from 3-point range during his entire 19-game run in Houston, as he’s made just 26.2 percent of his triples this season. During Friday night’s game, Porter’s effort was inconsistent at best and his decision-making was certainly not the greatest.
Porter received criticism after the game by Rockets Twitter, which is a collective group that’s understandably grown tired and weary of the Rockets- 2020-21 season that’s been filled with pain, agony, drama, and constant losing. For that reason it’s understandable why anyone would be overly critical about anything pertaining to Houston Rockets’ product on the floor.
Dear Houston Rockets fans, please be patient with Kevin Porter Jr.
However, the situation with Porter is different, for a number of reasons. For starters, it’s important to note how early it is in Porter’s basketball life. Porter is just 20-years-old and played in just 21 of a potential 33 games during his lone season at USC and missed 46 games in less than two seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Granted, the talent has always been there with KPJ, which has led to endless comparisons to James Harden, which has been happening since he was in college. But as we’ve seen time and time again, talent will only go so far in the NBA, as these are the most talented basketball players in the world.
For Porter, the key is continued growth and development, not to mention maturity on the floor. This will help him with his spotty decision-making, while also helping him to keep his spirits high when his shots aren’t falling. Not to mention helping him to develop a consistent 3-point shot, which will essentially make him unstoppable on the offensive end.
The Rockets knew when they acquired Porter that they would need to be patient with him, while also fostering his development, which is exactly why he didn’t play in the Rockets’ first 21 games following the trade and was sent to the G-League instead. The importance of being patient with Porter is even heightened with him being asked to play a new point guard position on the fly, and turn into a facilitator for others.
What also hasn’t been discussed is how much of a model citizen Porter has been since joining the Rockets, which is no small accomplishment for someone of his age and with some of the troubles that he ran into in Cleveland. But his troubles didn’t just begin in Cleveland, as Porter was also suspended while at USC by head coach Andy Enfield.
This baggage and immaturity is exactly what allowed the Rockets to land Porter Jr. for just two future second-round picks that are unlikely to convey, after the Cavaliers traded four second-round picks to get him in the 2019 NBA Draft. While the talent is high, the upside is even higher as it pertains to Porter Jr.
At this point, the development, maturation, and growth need to happen, and that will always be a work in progress. Remember, Porter was essentially asked to be the savior and to replace James Harden, especially in the eyes of the fanbase.
His development is not something that we will likely see drastically improve from game-to-game in the same season. But that’s why these games have been so important, because although the Rockets’ season has practically been over for months now, the reps have been invaluable for Porter.
Porter will whole-heartedly benefit from a full offseason with the Rockets and an entire training camp with Rockets coach Stephen Silas and with his teammates as well. For now, we should allow him to grow and make mistakes on the floor, while also appreciating how well he’s handled everything he’s been asked to do in Houston.
At the end of the day, the Houston Rockets have been determined to be patient with Porter, while allowing him to develop his game, and the fans must also do the same.