Kevin Porter Jr’s Overlooked Second Half Surge
A tremendous amount of attention was given to Jalen Green’s incredible second-half surge, but not nearly enough press was given to Kevin Porter Jr’s impressive turnaround. Over his first 30 games, he averaged 13 points, 5.9 assists, and 3.7 turnovers on 37.7% shooting from the field and 34.1% from 3-point range. Those are simply dreadful numbers.
However, over his final 31 games, he averaged 18 points, 6.5 assists, and 2.6 turnovers on 44.4% shooting from the field and 40% from 3-point range. While that's not All-Star quality (guard play in the NBA is incredible right now), they are impressive marks for a player in their age 21 season. Porter’s across-the-board improvement in the second half was impressive and somehow flew under the radar.
Determining why Porter surged is difficult to dissect. It could be as simple as he just got better, but a lineup change also coincided with Porter’s zero-to-hero act. On November 11th, the Rockets unveiled a starting lineup that featured Kevin Porter Jr, Jalen Green, and Eric Gordon for the first time.
The decision to utilize three ball handlers in the starting lineup proved to be an excellent decision as the Rockets beat the playoff-bound Chicago Bulls 118-113. Unfortunately, Green suffered a hamstring injury, and the Rockets wouldn’t be able to go back to the lineup again until December 28th.
From that moment on, the trio started 22 more games together and went 10-12. Due to injuries, they weren’t able to log more games together, but the added benefit of having two ball handlers seemed to jolt Porter’s production. He averaged 16.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 2.8 turnovers on 43.8% shooting and 39.9% shooting from 3-point range over those final 42 games.
The improvement in Porter’s production throughout the season was a fantastic development, regardless of what his positional home ends up being.