Craig Porter Jr. has proven himself, should still be regularly involved with Cavs

Craig Porter Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers
Craig Porter Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best storylines of the 2023-24 season thus far for the Cleveland Cavaliers has been the play of Craig Porter Jr.

Coming into the season, Porter didn’t appear to be in line for a bunch of meaningful action with the Cavaliers. It’s turned out that he has already made an imprint on the team, though.

Pretty soon into the season, at least sooner than one could’ve anticipated, Porter has had 7.2 points and 2.3 assists per game, in what’s amounted to 13 appearances.

As he’s had meaningful opportunities, it’s been harder and harder to believe he went undrafted. Porter is one of the Cavaliers’ three two-way players, but it’s very evident he looks to be quite the steal and can contribute right away.

In a recent batch of games, Porter was really giving Cleveland a spark, too. He had 12.7 points and 4.0 assists per game in a six-game span from Nov. 15-Nov. 25, and gave the Cavs a big boost in his minutes, mostly off the bench.

Porter was getting more looks with Cleveland being banged up in the backcourt, and his presence as a scorer and facilitator helped in a big way. He had his hand in several victories.

That said, in the past few games, Porter hasn’t had much time in there. That’s not necessarily been a surprise with others back, and Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland mean so much to this team. Even still, Porter had been crucial for the Cavaliers, and it’d behoove them to still find ways to use him.

Porter still should have his chances for the Cavaliers, given what he displayed recently.

Porter is on a two-way deal, and it's early December, so that has to be factored in when it comes to his availability, and/or at times having DNPs.

He has a max of 50 appearances when playing on a two-way deal with his NBA squad, and Donovan Mitchell being back in the fold after missing some time with a hamstring injury has to be taken into consideration, as it pertains to Porter, too. And the same could apply with Isaac Okoro, who had previously been out for nine games with knee soreness.

Those caveats aside, Porter was showcasing how he can be an impactful contributor on both ends of the floor, and to help ease some burden on Garland/Mitchell in situations where they're staggered, Porter is a sensible option.

He's not Okoro on the defensive end in an on-ball sense, but with Porter's instincts, defensive feel as a playmaker there and with his vertical pop, he still can make a difference on the perimeter there. Porter has had 1.4 steals per-36 minutes, and for him to have a block rate of 2.5 percent as a 6-foot-1 guard is something else, even if there have been some overaggressive fouls.

In addition, on the other end of the floor, Porter's polish with his change of speeds, contact balance and his passing timing all helped the Cavaliers in recent weeks when Cleveland was dealing with injuries to their backcourt/perimeter options. Porter's driving finishing and counters with a short pull-up game had been giving the Cavs a lift in his minutes, and he came up big in wins over the Detroit Pistons, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers last month.

In fairness, with Porter, it's not going to be the simplest solution when it comes to generating ample minutes for him, with the other guys involved. The two-way element is obviously at play there, too.

However, it's very evident that as an older prospect, Porter knows how to play, and him receiving seven minutes of run in Cleveland's last four games is a bit of a concerning trend. And there were two DNPs in that last chunk of contests.

With what Porter has shown already at this point, J.B. Bickerstaff and company need to find ways to have him fairly regularly involved. He's looked to be a heck of a steal.

Cleveland Cavaliers: J.B. Bickerstaff has more to give. Cleveland Cavaliers: J.B. Bickerstaff has more to give. dark. Next

To provide some clarity, with what he's provided when he's had the chances, Porter seems to be a more than viable candidate to have his two-way deal converted to a standard one as well. That's especially the case with the uncertainty regarding Ricky Rubio and Ty Jerome having barely played because of an ankle injury.