The Houston Rockets have undergone a complete change this season, seeing a new general manager, coach, and roster. On January 22nd, the Rockets added another piece, acquiring 2019 1st round draft pick Kevin Porter Jr. (referred to as Porter) for a future protected 2nd round pick. Porter, who recently made headlines for throwing food in the locker room after newly acquired forward Taurean Prince took Porter’s locker in Cleveland, was sent home from the Cavaliers a week ago.
It had then been reported that the Cavaliers were looking to trade or release Porter as soon as possible. General Manager Rafael Stone jumped at this opportunity, buying low on a high potential player with many off-court issues.
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Porter has been in the news for the last few months, with the trade to Houston marking (hopefully) the end to an offseason of turbulence for the 20-year-old. When Porter was at the University of Southern California, he was suspended indefinitely due to conduct issues. In October 2020, Porter had posted on Instagram stating, “You ever wish to see the end of your time?” This worried many people, both fans and those around Porter. Porter then took to Twitter to state that he was okay, but was dealing with a rough time that “can’t get worse than what [he] already been thru”.
Porter was later arrested two weeks later due to an illegal weapons charge and possession of marijuana. He also allegedly attacked a 19-year-old woman, beating her up in the street. The woman, however, did not press charges, and Porter’s lawyers claim that his actions were in defense of his sister.
John Lucas’ Impact
Rockets Assistant Coach John Lucas is well renowned around the league for helping players with off-court issues. Lucas himself was a former NBA player, who dealt with substance abuse throughout his career. He eventually went through substance abuse rehabilitation and now runs a wellness program for athletes.
When Porter arrived in Houston, Lucas was one of the first people to get in touch with him, along with Coach Stephen Silas and GM Rafael Stone. It is clear among the organization that Lucas will be a large factor in helping Porter with his off-court issues.
Porter, who last season ranked among the best rookies in terms of PPG and production on the court, has been plagued by off-court issues. Lucas now looks to fix this kid’s head, and help him get in a better mental space.
A New Beginning
Porter had many issues in Cleveland and now looks to have a restart in Houston. The Rockets, who are now in the midst of a youth movement, hope to see Porter return onto the court and make an impact. Last season with the Cavaliers, Porter played the small forward position due to the emergence of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.
In Houston, he should look to play the shooting guard position more often. Per cleaningtheglass.com, Porter shot 50 percent from three when playing the shooting guard position, while shooting just 31 percent from three as a small forward. His eFG% was also higher as a shooting guard, 58.9% compared to 47.9% as a small forward. Porter proved to be a capable defender at both positions, a focus that Coach Silas has harped on all season.
Porter had an incredible rookie season. He was the only rookie to average ten ppg, three rpg, and two apg in less than 24 minutes per game last season. His game was most reminiscent of that of a young James Harden. Amazingly, the per 36 minutes stats from their rookie seasons are eerily similar.
The Rockets will look to help Porter both on and off the court and hope to have a young star in the making next to a very talented young core.