Houston Rockets Season Review: Kevin Porter Jr

N.B. Lindberg
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Kevin Porter Jr, Houston Rockets
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The Good and Bad of Kevin Porter Jr’s Season

Kevin Porter Jr’s 2021-22 season had plenty of ups and downs. He showed improvement as a 3-point shooter, but his efficiency on 2-pointers fell off a cliff, his passing oscillated between sublime and dismal, and his defense had impressive moments but came with too many lapses. 

The Good

The single most important development of Porter’s season was the improvement he showed as a 3-point shooter. In 6.8 attempts a game, he set a career-high mark of 37.5% from 3-point range. Blending volume and efficiency from distance is always welcome in the NBA. 

He also showed flashes as a capable playmaker. He had nine games with double-digit assists and 15 more with nine or eight. At no point did he look like Chris Paul, but the ability to set up his teammates was often present.  

Defense has never been Porter’s calling card, but he made significant strides on that end. He posted a defensive Box Plus/Minus of -1.6 and a career-best 0 defensive Raptor. Advanced defensive metrics are noisy and should be taken with a grain of salt, but they’re better than just steals and blocks. 

The eye test also showed a player capable of locking down his man, although not consistently enough to be a plus. Porter played around league average defense this season, which is a welcome development for a guard who also was tasked with a large portion of the offense. 

The Bad

For the season, Porter played like a poor man’s Lonzo Ball (which is a great player), but where he struggled raises concerns over his ultimate ceiling. To put it bluntly, his 2-point shooting was pathetic. He converted 45.6% of his 2-pointers against a league average of 53.3%. At every level inside the arc, he was well below the league average. 

The most concerning part was his inability to convert within 10 feet of the rim. Porter shot 64.6% on shots within three feet of the rim, and an abysmal 29.1% on shots three to ten feet from the basket. His efficiency in the mid-range was also poor, but they made up such a small percentage of his shot diet that little should be made of the sample. 

Turnovers plagued Porter at the beginning of the season, but he was able to get them under control as the season wore on. Even with his improvements, his average of 4.8 turnovers per 100 possessions was the tenth highest mark in the league.

The likes of Luka Doncic, James Harden, Nikola Jokic, Trae Young, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, to name a few, are also in the top-10, but they bring far more scoring and playmaking to the table. If you turn the ball over at a league-leading rate, you need to be one of the best offensive players in the league.