Given the current nature of his deal structure, Craig Porter Jr. is not going to be playing every game for the Cleveland Cavaliers, let alone with a bunch of minutes.
Porter is a rookie two-way player signed by Cleveland following the 2023 NBA Draft, and there will always be other guys involved regarding minutes distribution. That is just the nature of the beast.
Those caveats aside, Porter has proven to be a steal for the Cavaliers. Across 28 appearances this season, Porter has had averages of 7.3 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per contest, including games in the starting lineup.
In a general sense, though, it is apparent that Porter, even with the varied playing opportunities, is always a player who can make an impact for Cleveland. And that is no small thing for a Cleveland team in need of contributing depth.
Porter continues to show he never has to "get ready" for the Cavs
Porter has far exceeded expectations already this season, and as the year has progressed, he has looked more and more comfortable playing alongside his teammates.
Porter's decision-making, multifaceted athleticism, defensive integrity and winning plays have all led to becoming a secondary difference-maker when his number has been called. That has been particularly meaningful with the injuries to perimeter guys at various points this season, such as Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell a bit and Caris LeVert Additionally, Ty Jerome has barely played.
For an undrafted two-way player, what Porter has done for Cleveland on both ends of the floor has given the squad quite a boost, and he has helped a variety of other guys get quality looks when he has played in meaningful opportunities to make the right choices. He has averaged 7.1 assists per 36 minutes, and Porter has placed in the 75th percentile in assist rate among combo guards this season at 26.0 percent, per Cleaning The Glass (subscription required).
Now, Porter has been called upon far more than one could have originally anticipated with both Ricky Rubio and Jerome expected to serve as the backup backcourt options. It has also largely been due to Garland's most recent injury, who is still recovering from his fractured jaw, but Porter has more than surpassed his expectations.
The rookie from Wichita State has affected games in several ways with his driving capabilities, movement feel, functional athleticism and playmaking on both ends of the court. That has included him posting 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per 36 minutes this season. In both scoring and securing extra possessions, Porter's developed intelligence and efficiency shine. His finishing prowess has continually popped, and has at numerous points in this hot Cleveland stretch for the last month-plus, and he's countered that with a silky smooth touch on short pull-ups.
There are again going to be fluctuations in Porter's minutes with others involved, and Porter had two DNPs in wins over the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls. Yet, he has had more run in Cleveland's past two blowouts Ws, and he has posted 7.2 points, 4.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 18.6 minutes per contest with an average plus-minus of plus-3.9 in his last 12 appearances with the Cavaliers.
Obviously, Porter's not going to be playing 20-plus minutes all the time for Cleveland, and when Garland is back, it might be more difficult to foresee just what Porter's minutes will look like.
All things considered, though, with Porter's high IQ and vast collegiate experience, which even included him starting as a JUCO player originally, he has usually looked exceptionally comfortable. No matter the situation, he is confident and ready to take on the challenge.
It is not surprising that Porter appears reportedly to be in line to sign an eventual multi-year deal with the Cavaliers, and land a legit roster spot seemingly post-trade deadline, especially after Ricky Rubio's buyout agreement with the team. Porter continues to impact winning for Cleveland and seems to be another undrafted success story for the Wine and Gold from recent history.