3 Cavs players that have exceeded expectations in 2019-20

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton celebrates after a made basket by Cleveland wing Kevin Porter Jr. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton celebrates after a made basket by Cleveland wing Kevin Porter Jr. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. and Cleveland guard Collin Sexton high-five in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Three players have clearly exceeded expectations in the 2019-20 season thus far for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

We’re still not certain if the 2019-20 season will end up playing out, at least in some capacity, for NBA teams. A step toward a potential resumption came recently, though, and this will apply to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Saturday, the NBA will allow players to have individual workouts in team practice facilities beginning on Friday in areas where restrictions will end up being loosened in relation to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and teams where that doesn’t apply will work with the league to accommodate players.

This should enable the Cavs to at least gain a bit of momentum such as how they were seemingly heading in the right direction post-All-Star break heading into the league’s season suspension.

The squad seemed much more bought-in when J.B. Bickerstaff took over as the Cavaliers head coach, and that was evident by their better overall play.

Anyhow, while the Cavs’ overall record of just 19-46 to this point in the 2019-20 season is anything but impressive, there have been three players that I believe have clearly exceeded expectations this season.

The first one is a promising rookie with tons of potential.

#3: Kevin Porter Jr.

It’s not been all the time that Kevin Porter Jr. has played really well, but as a bench contributor that only started in four games at USC in his lone collegiate season, even with showing a bunch of talent, Porter having 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in averaging just 23.2 minutes has been great to see.

The 19-year-old is one of the Cavs’ best young pieces, and arguably has the highest ceiling of them. His finishing at the rim has jumped out throughout the season, and that’s been his bread-and-butter to rely on.

Though he’s not been efficient on pull-ups, as evidenced by just a 34.0 percent effective field goal shooting clip, per NBA.com’s shot tracking data, him hitting 40.7 percent of his catch-and-shoot three-point attempts thus far has been outstanding to see, too.

Additionally, Porter having an assist rate of 14.7 percent as a score-first perimeter player has been particularly noteworthy. His feel as a passer, mostly displayed in hitting dump-offs to pieces such as Larry Nance Jr. and making the proper extra passes to players such as Kevin Love and Darius Garland has been a key positive.

Moreover, we’ve seen plenty of instances of Porter’s ability to go off in stretches as a scorer, and with his handle, even though it hasn’t led to shots falling all the time, it’s evident that with his ability to manipulate matchups in the pick-and-roll and finish, and with his passing feel and athleticism, he has barely scratched the surface. His cutting feel has gotten better as the year has progressed, too.

Related Story. Grading Kevin Porter Jr.'s play thus far in 2019-20. light

Defensively, while him navigating through off-ball screens to contest needs work, Porter has often shown the ability to jump passing lanes, as evidenced by 1.4 steals per-36 minutes, per Basketball Reference, and he has the instincts to make plays at times as a helper at the rim. Plus, he has demonstrated the capability to mirror opposing ball-handlers very well when he’s been seemingly fully keyed-in and knows where screeners are coming.

While it’s not his natural position, either, Porter appearing mostly at the 3 position, with Dylan Windler not being able to play at all to this point given complications involving a stress reaction in his left leg, KPJ has done an admirable job in his matchups. Plus, Porter has shown he’s a very willing rebounder, too.

Porter is far from a finished product, but he again has exceeded my expectations thus far in 2019-20, and I firmly believe the Cavs’, and I just hope he can stay healthy moving forward. He had missed Cleveland’s last three games heading into the hiatus due to a concussion, and a 10-game stretch in January due to a left knee sprain.

Again, though, KPJ is coming.