Cavs: Off-the-bounce shooting is clearly swing skill for Kevin Porter Jr.

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. brings the ball up the floor. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. brings the ball up the floor. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Kevin Porter Jr. has the makings of a key piece already for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he’ll need to be more efficient as an off-the-bounce shooter.

At this point, Cleveland Cavaliers fans seem really optimistic about what Kevin Porter Jr. could eventually be. That’s understandable, as Porter showed plenty of flashes of impressive creation ability, and had a productive rookie campaign with 10.0 points per game, to go with averaging 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.9 steals.

Porter’s passing feel for a first-year score-first contributor was particularly encouraging from my perspective, too. Overall, it’s evident that whether or not he does eventually regularly start next season, KPJ will almost certainly play more than 23.2 minutes per outing as he did in year 1.

Porter’s role will likely expand and either way, he should end up getting plenty of burn with Darius Garland and/or Collin Sexton, feasibly regardless of them being staggered or not. Porter’s defensive feel, especially in the team sense in playing passing lanes jumped out in his first season, too, and anyhow in 2020-21, I’d expect Porter to get burn in a variety of lineups.

Swinging back to the offensive/scoring perspective, with his finishing touch with both hands, quickness and body control, and with how Porter had a healthy 3.1 free throw attempts per-36 minutes, to me, he’s the Cavs’ best driving threat heading into 2020-21. The crucial part for KPJ, though, is regarding his clear swing skill.

Porter could end up fulfilling his star potential for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the near future if he can become a reliable off-the-bounce shooter.

Porter has a truly uncanny ability to create space off-the-bounce, and with his feel for changing speeds and his explosiveness, he can consistently get to his spots in the pull-up game. The key for Porter, though, and what will be his swing skill going forward is his off-the-bounce shooting, and in turn, hopefully being able to be more efficient on those looks.

Now I get KPJ shot a decent 44.2 percent overall, and that was good to see, and I’ll also cut him some slack for often being guarded by longer defenders as a rookie with him mostly appearing at the 3 position. Porter also hit a very good 68.7 percent on attempts in the restricted area in 2019-20, per’s shooting data.

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Even if Porter does eventually start at the 2, his natural position at some point, though, and Darius Garland moves to a bench role with Collin Sexton at the de facto 1, given Garland’s playmaking ability, I could still see those three together in stretches.

That’d be if the Cavs went with a possible starting 3 option in the upcoming draft, such as the Auburn Tigers’ Isaac Okoro or potentially signed a suggested free agent target such as the Memphis Grizzlies’ Josh Jackson this offseason, for example.

Again, however, for KPJ to eventually become a high-end starter feasibly at some point for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and perhaps be a star down the road, that would likely come from being a high quality shooter off-the-bounce.

We saw instances of big-time off-the-bounce shooting from Porter as a rookie, most notably in a game against the Houston Rockets early on and some in a comeback W over the Miami Heat in late February, when he had a career-high 30 points.

Granted, the key with Porter is him becoming consistent on his off-the-bounce attempts to fully take advantage of his ability to generate space. On stepbacks, KPJ had a shooting clip of only 26.9 percent, which wasn’t ideal. Also, on pull-ups this now-past season, Porter had an effective field goal shooting clip of only 34.0 percent, per’s shot tracking data.

On pull-up three-point attempts, KPJ hit 25.7 percent of those looks, and as I briefly touched on before, it’d be great to see Porter have at least a 45.0 percent effective field goal shooting clip on pull-ups in 2020-21.

Looking back, that was a lofty goal, but with him more comfortable, he could do so potentially. If Porter hits that suggested mark next season as a bench contributor, or more realistically the following/continues to steadily improve on his efficiency as a shooter off-the-bounce, he could end up becoming a star down the road.

I can’t say for certain if he’ll be efficient in that realm, but if he can improve there to couple that with him hitting 40.7 percent on catch-and-shoot three-point attempts as a rookie, Porter as a future All-Star for Cleveland doesn’t seem that far-fetched. The sample size wasn’t a ton, but Porter hitting 34.8 percent of his 23 stepback triple attempts did at least show some potential in terms of off-the-bounce deep shooting, too.

Albeit even if KPJ doesn’t prove to be a consistent off-the-bounce shooter, with his driving prowess and catch-and-shoot ability, him at least being a hard-driving bench scorer would still be a key player throughout games, anyway.

Again, though, if KPJ can steadily progress in coming years as an off-the-bounce shooter (his swing skill), also factoring in his handle, athleticism, passing feel and defensive upside, he could eventually be a star for the Cavs.

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We’ll of course have to see him do so, if he has nearly his 37.0 percent frequency of taking pull-ups in coming years, as he did as a rookie. That could seemingly play out, or at least in the realm of 30.0-plus percent, too.