Craig Porter Jr. has shown how he can be a capable contributor for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even as a rookie that was undrafted out of Wichita State, and as one of the club's two-way players, Porter has given the Cavaliers quality minutes when he's had chances.
Sure, there were some more early-season opportunities for Porter than one would've anticipated at the time because of injuries. He gave the club some juice and amounted to a new find in a time when the Cavs were seeking that.
Although since Cleveland had gotten healthier in the backcourt/on the perimeter, Porter has seldomly been in the fold, by comparison. He has not played in meaningful minutes much in the last two or so weeks, and has registered three DNPs in a row.
Porter was involved in Cleveland's win over the Miami Heat to open their latest road trip, but in the ensuing three games on that roadie, he didn't get looks. Given how he could have possibly given the team a jolt, based on what he's demonstrated so far when he's had chances, that was a bit disappointing.
Now, however, after the news of Darius Garland suffering a fractured jaw and being expected to miss several weeks, Porter should be back in there his share of time. Cleveland could use the shot creation and playmaking capabilities, also with Evan Mobley set to miss likely six-to-eight weeks with arthroscopic knee surgery (what a tough Friday).
To help out the group as a whole, J.B. Bickerstaff and the Cavaliers should be strongly considering inserting Porter in games ahead in some minutes. They could use a shot in the arm via Porter, whether or not Cleveland makes a possible move for veteran lead guard depth.
Playing time for Porter should be a no-brainer at this stage, and the former Wichita State Shocker has made impact plays.
Porter has already given the Cavaliers much needed energy at times this season, and with the Garland news, the Cavs should be looking to Porter at times once again. His driving/slashing and playmaking could be something that comes in handy in spurts for the Cavs, and he can hold up to a large extent defensively.
He's posted 7.2 points and 2.4 assists in 14.3 minutes per contest this season, in what's amounted to 14 appearances to this point. In a six-game span a few weeks back, though, he averaged 12.7 points and 4.0 assists in 21.5 minutes per game. Thanks to his downhill play, he connected on 60.0 percent of his shot attempts in that stretch.
In Cleveland's last win at the Heat last Friday, Porter had eight points, four assists and three rebounds in 22 minutes, and was a plus-seven in his time out there. He registered two steals and a block as well, and often when he's had ample chances, he's made his presence felt as a defensive playmaker and Cleveland has benefited from his expertise in the transition game.
But, realistically, with him being on a two-way deal, it was fair to have assumed Porter might be back on the pine of late. That's with Caris LeVert now in mind, too, for what it's worth.
That said, the Garland injury changes that dynamic, and even prior to that news, given how the Cavs had been playing Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell so much recently, based on what he did a few weeks back when he had opportunities, it was sensible to play Porter again. He can still be out there with LeVert, and in some instances, Porter could essentially be a more favorable option to Isaac Okoro, even, considering what Porter can provide on offense.
Garland and Mitchell played well in Cleveland's last two losses at the Boston Celtics, but given how much Bickerstaff has been playing them of late, it would've been sensible to give Porter some playing time in those games, and/or in a loss at the Orlando Magic.
The gist is, while the two-way pact is in-play, and others are involved, given how the Cavaliers have been largley inconsistent, Bickerstaff, whose seat is rumored to be getting hotter it appears, should be going to his bench more. With those two aforementioned significant injuries, that should definitely play out now, too.
Regarding Porter, he's given this team a shot in the arm before with his play on both ends, and for a club and a head coach that has to be open to possibilities right now to try to gain momentum, getting Porter some PT would appear to be an obvious answer. And with Ty Jerome and Ricky Rubio situations to this point, Porter as a potential player with a standard contract wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.
Time will tell how much/if Porter gets in there during the Cavs' upcoming homestand.