Houston Rockets: The Kevin Porter Jr. evolution isn’t leading to a point guard

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Kevin Porter Jr. is one of the great NBA success stories. He went from the 30th overall pick to being traded for the NBA equivalent of nothing to landing a four-year, $82.5 million extension from the Houston Rockets. It’s rare for a player to have such a troubled start to their career and so quickly turn it around. 

The Rockets believed in a talented yet troubled young man and helped him reach new heights. They gave him a new home where he could develop his game to make good on the promise he showed as a prospect, and he rewarded their faith. 

Porter has continually shown growth since debuting in 2019. Each season he has improved his PER, box plus/minus, and offensive rating. Even though it’s early, the 2022-23 season has been the best of his career, culminating in a 19.7 points, 5.1 assists, and 1.4 steals per game line. 

Porter and the Rockets should both be applauded for what they have accomplished together. All too often, a bad beginning leads to a short career, but at 22 years old, Porter looks to have a long career ahead of him. As a player, he has done a fantastic job developing and improving his game, but it hasn’t led down the path that the Rockets laid out for him. 

The Kevin Porter Jr. point guard debate 

As the NBA has become more and more positionless, positional labels have become less meaningful. For instance, Nikola Jokic is a center, but he also brings the ball up the court, playmakes, and is the general offensive hub for the Denver Nuggets, so he is also a point guard. 

Such is Jokic’s talent; he is whatever position he wants to be. Some call him a point-center, others can’t get over his seven-foot frame, and he’ll always be a center, and some brave souls call the man responsible for the most passes in the league a point guard. 

Kevin Porter Jr. is not Jokic, but he does illicit the same point guard debate, just for a very different reason. The Houston Rockets have been playing Kevin Porter Jr. as a point guard for the past three seasons because someone inevitably has to be called the point guard. 

Porter does most of the basic point guard tasks. He brings the ball up the court, passes after bringing the ball up, runs some pick-and-rolls, and the offense generally flows through him. That’s, in essence, what a point guard does. They get the offense running and act to keep it humming. 

While Porter is technically a point guard because he does the point guard things for the Houston Rockets, the reason a debate exists over whether he is a point guard is because he’s just not very good at them. 

Next: The Kevin Porter Jr.'s point guard experience