The Houston Rockets weren’t expected to compete for a title this season, but there was hope that they wouldn’t repeat as the worst team in the league. After 11 games, the Rockets are 1-10 and in a race to the bottom with the New Orleans Pelicans. The central figure to their slow start has been the uneven play of Kevin Porter Jr.
The Rockets had high hopes for Porter this season. They believed enough in his ability to put John Wall on ice and make him the undisputed point guard. The optimism surrounding Porter wasn’t just confined to Houston either. He was one of Vegas’ top candidates to land Most Improved Player.
Through 11 games, he has a strong case for the Least Improved Player award. To put it politely, Porter has been awful, and his struggles have dragged the Rockets down with him.
This season, the Rockets have better when Kevin Porter Jr is not on the court. Per 100 possessions, the Rockets have a net rating of -8.84 points with Porter on the court and a -5.18 with him off it. What’s more concerning is the Rockets' offense completely falls apart with him on the court. They have an offensive rating of 99.3 points per 100 possessions when he's in the game, and a 105.4 offensive rating when he sits. It’s tough to win games when your supposed floor general makes General Custer look like Hannibal.
The across the board offensive drop-off Porter has experienced is striking. He’s scoring and assisting less, shooting worse, and turning the ball over more. There’s plenty of time for Porter to turn things around, but his poor start has obliterated the goodwill he built last season and over the summer.
While he has struggled mightily to start the season, it’s not all doom and gloom. Kevin Porter Jr is still only 21, has only 87 NBA games under his belt, and is nowhere near a finished product. He’ll get better as the season wears on, or he’ll be back in the G-League where he can’t ground the Rockets. After 11 games, this is the good, the bad, and the ugly of Kevin Porter’s season.