Cleveland Cavaliers: Grading Kevin Porter Jr.’s play thus far in 2019-20

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. celebrates with fans after scoring. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. celebrates with fans after scoring. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Kevin Porter Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. reacts in-game. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Here, we’ll grade the play thus far of promising Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Kevin Porter Jr. in the 2019-20 season.

It’s uncertain if the 2019-20 NBA season will eventually play out, as the league’s on hiatus due to concerns regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic. On the plus side, the Cleveland Cavaliers were playing better post-All-Star break after J.B. Bickerstaff took the head coaching reigns, and in that stretch leading into the league’s season suspension, Cleveland was 5-6.

That’s a decent record when compared to on the season, of which the Wine and Gold are just 19-46.

The Cavs are still fairly on in their rebuild, though, and it’s been productive for pieces such as Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. to have had plenty of experience in meaningful minutes. Collin Sexton has continued to take positive strides in his second season, too, and has led Cleveland in scoring virtually of 2019-20, with 20.8 points per outing, as noted by

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Here, though, we’re going to focus on the play on both ends of the aforementioned Porter, who has shown throughout the season that while he still has a ways to go as currently a 19-year-old, he’s arguably the most promising player on Cleveland’s current roster.

We’ll begin with taking a look at Porter’s offensive play thus far in 2019-20.

Taking a look at Porter’s offensive play

At this point, Porter’s offensive play has been encouraging for Cavs fans, especially when considering the kid’s mostly been a bench contributor. He’s had 10.0 points and 2.2 assists per game in averaging just 23.2 minutes per outing.

He has shown an impressive handle, which has routinely enabled him to create space, and in the pick-and-roll game, in particular, he’s already shown the capability and feel to change speeds, which is no easy task for a player his age at this level.

As the year has progressed, though he’ll need to display it more consistently, Porter has shown improved cutting feel, and that’s led to him being in the right spot a fair amount for dump-offs, and with his finishing prowess near the rim, he’s typically been able to capitalize.

What has been the best part about KPJ’s offensive game this season, by and large, has been his efficiency near the basket, where he’s clearly an ambidextrous finisher. On attempts 0-3 feet out, KPJ has hit 71.8 percent of those on a frequency of 29.5 percent, per Basketball Reference.

His combination of speed, explosive quickness, sudden burst and ability to finish through contact is rare for a perimeter player in their first season, and though the pull-up shooting from deep hasn’t been there much, KPJ has hit a healthy 40.7 percent of his catch-and-shoot triple attempts, per’s shot tracking data.

Though his turnover rate of 14.0 percent has been on the higher end, Porter’s vision and feel for hitting dump-offs to bigs such as Larry Nance Jr. and also getting spray-outs to shooters such as Garland and Kevin Love has been a key positive as well.

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In the Cavs’ last 15 games leading into the season’s suspension, Porter had 3.2 assists per outing, too, of which he was active in 12 games; he missed the Cavs’ last three games heading into the hiatus due to being in the NBA’s concussion protocol.

Anyhow, for KPJ to truly get near his seemingly sky-high ceiling as a perimeter player, he’ll need to knock down his pull-ups much more often.

Thus far in his rookie year, he’s had an effective field goal shooting rate of just 34.0 percent, and on a frequency of 37.0 percent, that’s simply not what you want to see.

There are also still times when Porter does dribble himself into unnecessary traffic, too, which has led to secondary transition looks the other way, and while he’ll work on them and I believe improve, some of the turnovers Porter’s had have been at really inopportune times.

Games such as early in the season against James Harden and the Houston Rockets, when KPJ had 24 points on nine-of-15 shooting (including six-of-nine from deep), along with a career-high 30-point performance in the Cavs’ comeback win over the Miami Heat, of which KJG’s Corey Casey hit on, have given glimpses into KPJ’s star potential, though.

Clearly, however, he’ll need to be much more on as a shooter game-to-game, and keep progressing off the ball, and with I’d imagine more and more minutes in coming years, we’ll see Porter keep making positive strides offensively.

Porter’s offensive grade thus far in 2019-20: B

Next up, we’ll take a look at KPJ’s defensive play thus far this season.