The Cleveland Cavaliers are patiently waiting as Kevin Porter Jr. develops his game.
It was the second home game and their fourth matchup of the season overall for the Cleveland Cavaliers Facing off against the Chicago Bulls, Kevin Porter Jr. and the Cavs had struggled all night to keep the game competitive.
After fighting back from an early 10-point deficit, the Cavaliers entered the fourth quarter trailing by just two. With the game tied at 84, Porter drilled his first 3-pointer of the season in step-back fashion.
A few plays later, Porter made a timely pass to a cutting Larry Nance Jr. for an easy dunk. Then, as Kris Dunn of the Bulls drove in for a layup, Porter was there to erase his shot attempt with a block.
Collecting the rebound and pushing the tempo, Porter found himself face-to-face with Dunn once again. A quick hesitation move got Dunn off his feet as Porter sliced through the paint for an energetic two-hand dunk. This capped off a 16-10 run by the Cavaliers to seal the victory.
This moment was electrifying in that it proved what so many had thought about Porter heading into the season. The 19-year-old prospect has serious potential to have a profound impact on the franchise.
“He’s got great natural talent, and now we’ve just got to let him soar,” John Beilein said about Porter. The first-year head coach is excited to watch his rookie develop alongside the rest of the team.
However, Porter’s intro to the NBA hasn’t been smooth. He is shooting just 10-of-33 overall and 3-for-12 from deep. His frustrations led to a boneheaded move in which he bumped a referee, resulting in a one-game suspension.
It’s obvious Porter is still a work in progress. His struggles from the field have been compounded by his lack of experience. Too often is Porter finding himself in the wrong situations and making bad decisions with the ball.
This is a problem that many young players have. As the season goes on, Porter should adjust to the speed of the NBA and become more comfortable within the Cavaliers offense.
He has already shown a knack for penetrating the defense. His dunk against Chicago was just one of many moments in which he utilized his tight handle to knife into the paint. Porter is crafty and has a great feel for finding gaps in the defense.
Of course, this has been part of the reason why he is having trouble finishing around the rim. Porter is able to get into the paint whenever he wants, but is having a hard time understanding when and where the help defense is going to come from.
Consequently, Porter is often gobbled up by opposing rim protectors and is forced into bad shots. He will need to work on passing out of these situations.
His shooting will need to improve as well. Though his release is smooth, his consistency is a concern. Luckily, Porter has drilled one 3-pointer in each of his last three games. This is a promising sign.
As for his defense, Porter is showing the raw potential to be a versatile wing defender. He has great size and athleticism allowing him to defend multiple positions. The Cavaliers defensive rating is better by 3.4 points with Porter on the floor, making him one of the team’s most impactful core players.
This season will be interesting as the Cavaliers traverse through the ups-and-downs of KPJ’s rookie campaign. The goal is for Porter to have taken a significant step forward by the end of the year, but, it is important to remember that he is still a work in progress.