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The Houston Rockets may not be sold on Kevin Porter Jr. as their long-term option at point guard.
This comes after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden “is seriously considering” a reunion with Houston should he leave Philly.
Moving Porter to point guard last season made sense for the Rockets. The tactical shift allowed he and Jalen Green to share the court, and they had plenty of time to grow together with Houston in the early stages of its rebuild.
The team saw enough from Porter to hand him an incentive-laden four-year, $82.5 million extension in October.
Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42
Kevin Porter Jr. rookie extension:<br><br>Year 1 is guaranteed ($15.9M) with year 2 and 3 becoming fully guaranteed on 6/30/24.<br><br>There’s a 6/30/25 guaranteed date for the 2026-27 season. <br><br>The contract also includes incentives for games played and team success.
While that deal allows for the 22-year-old to remain a long-term piece for Houston, his performance is raising questions as to whether he’ll stick at point guard.
Through 33 games, Porter is averaging 8.1 assists to 5.2 turnovers per 100 possessions, according to Basketball Reference. That’s a worse ratio than last season (9.4 assists to 4.8 turnovers).
As a team, the Rockets are last in assists (21.7 per game) and 29th in assist percentage (55.1), per NBA.com. They’re also last in turnover percentage (17.1).
Porter is averaging 16.8 points and 6.1 assists and shooting 42.2 percent from the floor since joining Houston. He’s a more natural scorer than he is a playmaker.
Todd Whitehead @CrumpledJumper
Team PNR tendencies. Among the teams who run PNR the most, what type of scoring chances do they get out of it? <a href=”https://t.co/u7aXQItUfz”>pic.twitter.com/u7aXQItUfz</a>
That’s not necessarily a bad thing because a traditional floor general isn’t a prerequisite to building a contender. It might be a problem for Houston, though, when factoring in how important Green, Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Şengün will be for the future.
Whether it’s signing a veteran such as Harden or targeting a guard in the 2023 draft, the Rockets should look for an alternative to Porter at the point who’s better suited to play alongside that young trio.
Giving Porter more of an off-ball role or using him in a sixth-man role like Lou Williams or Jamal Crawford might accentuate his strengths more than continuing to use him as the primary creator as well.