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Houston Rockets Season Review: Kevin Porter Jr

N.B. Lindberg
Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers
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Kevin Porter Jr., Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

Where Kevin Porter Jr Needs to Improve

Determining where Kevin Porter Jr needs to improve is highly dependent on his future role. If he’s going to be a point guard, then he needs to improve across the board on offense. If he’s going to be used in multi-guard sets and as a secondary playmaker, then the areas for improvement shrink dramatically. 

An area where Porter absolutely needs to improve is his free throw shooting. For the season, he shot a career-low 64.2%. His poor shooting from the stripe also raises concerns over the sustainability of his 3-point shooting. Single-season free throw shooting is a better predictor of 3-point shooting than 3-point shooting. 

Right now, most of Porter’s offensive value comes from beyond the arc. Slipping to below league average would undo many of the gains we saw this season. While free throw shooting doesn’t solve that, it would suggest that the stroke can remain consistent. 

The easiest way for Porter to significantly improve his offense is to convert more 2-point attempts. Improving around the rim and in the floater range would dramatically boost his offensive baseline and prevent him from living and dying on the three. 

Shooting off the dribble will also be crucial to determining his future role. On catch and shoot threes, Porter was one of the better players in the league. However, the more he dribbled, the more he struggled to convert his threes.

Porter could also benefit greatly from improved ball handling. He doesn’t have a loose handle, but his array of moves and counter moves, a.k.a. his bag, is surprisingly sparse. Outside of a step-back, Porter too often relies on his athleticism to beat his defender. For a player with excellent agility but limited burst, this plan of attack makes being a primary ball-handler incredibly difficult. He has the tools but has yet to put it all together.

Finally, Porter needs to address are his emotions. Immaturity has caused him problems at every stop of his basketball journey since he went to USC. The Rockets have been incredibly accommodating, but eventually, even their patience will wear thin. Porter having a season with no dust-ups would be a welcome development for the franchise, and it’d also help him in the long run. 

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