Height/Weight: 6’6, 217 lbs
One of Kevin Porter’s biggest strengths is his strength! At 217 lbs. his size is comparable to wings such as Jimmy Butler and DeMar DeRozan. Porter has a lot of positional strength at his disposal which is apparent on drives like this where he can get out in transition and finish through contact with either hand:
His advanced and developed frame allows him to be a potential versatile defender, enabling him to guard three positions at the next level. With the league trending towards small ball, there may be times where he can survive guarding a team’s four.
Porter has an amazing shot creation package, he is the craftiest guard/wing in the draft when it comes to creating his own shot. He has a wide array of moves he can pull out at any time; anything from the hanging crossover to hesitations and his patented step-back. His quick handle is not going to break anyone down one on one but it does allow him to create an ample amount of space to get his shot off against anyone and at anytime at the collegiate level. He possesses a fair amount of shot diversity seeing as though he is not afraid to take jump shots off the dribble, or beating his man and taking it to the rim for a finesse finish. Porter also shows a good amount of body control as a slasher, finishing around bodies and proving that he can contort his body in mid-air to get a better angle for a shot.
Offense is just half of the game of basketball and Porter seems to have potential on the other end, defense. With a 6’9 wingspan, Porter has a knack for jumping passing lanes and being a defensive play-maker (i.e. steals, blocks) often times recording explosive blocks or going for steals which often times allow him to get into transition. When off the ball, Porter is constantly rotating his head to see both man and ball and communicating to let his teammates know what’s going on around the court. When one pass away, he is a pretty good team defender communication wise at least.
Sometimes when evaluating a player you have to look at how they interact with their teammates, coaches, and officials along with body language when things are not going his way. Porter is the first person to help a fallen teammate up. When on the bench he can be seen clapping and cheering on his teammates while also interacting with coaches and teammates. On the court, Porter is often times seen directing teammates, all signs of leadership in the USC locker room. This is all being done with him being one of the youngest players in the upcoming draft, if he elects to declare, being only 18 years old and born in early May.
Now that we have addressed the good, it is time to address the bad and ugly. Porter is a terrible decision maker. He can make the simple basketball passes, however, when pressure is applied to him he often makes risky, turnover inducing passes, specifically to cutters and low-post targets.
Porter’s off ball defensive intensity leaves much to be desired. When he’s more than one pass away, he is often times erect and flat footed which is why he doesn’t do a great job closing out on the shooter. He does not get down into an athletic stance and can be seen walking upright too often. Speaking of off-ball play, Porter does not do much as far as cutting, filling open spots, or setting screens when he does not have the ball in his hands or a specific play does not call for it offensively. This would help him have an impact on the game even without the ball in his hands.
Porter does not have a consistent impact on games, he will have dominant stretches, halves, or small flashes of brilliance, but he has a problem with impacting two halves of basketball. He makes highlight plays that make you think he can really play but then will be quiet for the rest of the night/ We need to see him leave his mark on the game every night.
With all of the moves in his arsenal, Kevin still needs to work on ball control and keeping his handle tight because sometimes he tries to get by his defender with a series of dribble moves and ends up fumbling the ball, tripping over himself, or having to pick up his dribble in an unfortunate spot. Sometimes he should just look to make the easy play rather than trying to make a highlight. It would drastically improve his consistency and help his team out. For a guy as strong, long, athletic, and with the ability to create his own shot, he should really attack the basket more where he can leverage his strength and get a lot of foul calls and finishes through contact instead of settling for mid-range jumpers.
Kevin Porter Jr. is a tantalizing NBA prospect. He has ideal strength, length, and size paired with a crafty shot creating package that should bode well for him in the NBA. He looks like he could be a very good scorer and defender as he progresses and continues to improve his game. Where he falls in the Draft depends on how he improves throughout this season. USC is still a solid squad with a lot of pieces. Kevin Porter Jr. is the main one though and if he wants to truly prove how good he can be, he has to take a bigger role and become the play-maker that the Trojans so desperately need. If he can do that, he’s easily in consideration for an early 1st round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.