The Cleveland Cavaliers have found a steal once again in Craig Porter Jr.

Maccabi Ra'anana v Cleveland Cavaliers
Maccabi Ra'anana v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The opening weeks of the 2023-24 NBA season have not been easy for the Cleveland Cavaliers as a seemingly endless slate of injuries plagues the roster.

Notably, Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell have each missed five games, leaving Cleveland absent of consistency in their backcourt. In the summer, Jarrett Allen suffered a left ankle bone bruise that sidelined him throughout the entire preseason and the beginning weeks of the regular season. Thus far, the only two Cavaliers starters to appear in all 15 games are Evan Mobley and recently-acquired wing Max Strus.

Without their core rotation, the Cavs have had a handful of wayward performances, leading to an unimpressive 8-7 record over their first 15 matchups. This has led to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff experimenting with the lineup much more than initial reports anticipated. The injury bug expanded beyond the starting five, as well. Another new addition, Ty Jerome, has only played two games. Since then, Cleveland's backup point guard has fluctuated game-by-game.

These misfortunes have given rise to one unforeseen (but most welcome) bright spot for the Cavs - the emergence of undrafted rookie point guard Craig Porter, Jr.

Over his five-year collegiate career, Porter played for junior college Vincennes University before transferring to Wichita State University. Upon graduation, Porter entered the NBA draft at 23-years-old and ended up with a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In Summer League, Porter flashed his talent by playing a major role in Cleveland's first Summer League championship, averaging 12 points, 5.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds.

With the numerous injuries the Cavs faced early on, Porter had his first moment of NBA action on Oct. 28 against the Indiana Pacers. He only logged roughly three minutes in garbage time, but he came back for the next game and scored 10 points in 22 minutes.

Although he did not play every night, Porter quickly showed that he had no fear of the moment and played with great confidence immediately. At only 6-foot-2-inches tall, Porter fought every possession on defense and grabbed an impressive number of rebounds for an undersized guard.

In an awe inspiring effort, the Donovan Mitchell-less Cavaliers dominated the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets in a 121-109 victory. Porter stunned the crowd with a career high 21 points alongside 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block. He followed this performance up with a near double-double 12 points and 9 assists in a win against the Philadelphia 76ers.

From G-League to big league, Craig Porter, Jr. established himself as a regular rotation player with Cavaliers.

In the wake of Porter's heroics and Jerome's coming return, Evan Dammarell, founder of Right Down Euclid, spoke with Bickerstaff about Porter's spot on the team.

Currently, Porter is still on a two-way contract with the Cavaliers, which limits his availability over the course of the regular season and playoffs. Cleveland still holds an empty fifteenth roster spot, meaning they could convert Porter to a full contract in time. Thus far, such a reward seems undeniably deserved.

However, Porter's growth raises questions for Jerome's rotational fit going forward, as both players are best suited filling the same role, though they bring two drastically different skillsets. Where Porter's explosive athleticism and hustling mentality on defense provide a spark for the Cavaliers' second unit, Jerome has built a reputation as a long range threat over his career.

The first few games with both guards available will likely see plenty of experimentation and opportunities for both players to display their fit. Right now, Porter seemingly could overcome Jerome in the rotation, leading to questions regarding Jerome's future in Cleveland. Although Porter cannot shoot from deep as well as Jerome, Porter's playmaking and veteran-like IQ has opened up a multitude of chances for the rest of his teammates.

Porter adds to the growing list of players who have outgrown the G-League under Cleveland's system. Headed by coach Mike Gerrity, the Cleveland Charge helped develop Dean Wade into a bona fide NBA player, as Wade took advantage of a similar string of injuries the Cavs faced last season until he eventually signed a multi-year guaranteed contract.

Alongside Porter, the Cavaliers drafted rookie forward Emoni Bates from Eastern Michigan University. The former top prospect has already shown tremendous strides and growth with Cleveland and suggests a promising future after a rough road to his professional career.

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In reality, Porter is anything but an anomaly for the Cleveland Cavaliers. As the available talent in the NBA continues to expand, the Cavaliers have taken advantage of every chance to find the undiscovered gems in the rough, with Craig Porter, Jr. as the latest example for a team that desperately needed a spark.