The Cleveland Cavaliers have selected Kevin Porter Jr. with the No. 30 pick of the 2019 NBA draft. Cleveland acquired the selection from the Detroit Pistons minutes before making the choice, sending back multiple future picks.
He wasn't on mock drafts before the season, but Porter emerged as a first-round prospect to track after a handful of early performances that showcased his NBA body, athleticism and flash. A quad injury hurt his rhythm, and a bench role on a team of veterans didn't help, either. But scouts became drawn to Porter's obvious talent and skill package, even if they just were flashed in glimpses and didn't result in consistent production.
Weight: 212.6 pounds
Pro comparison: Kelly Oubre Jr.
Porter has classic NBA 2-guard tools with a strong frame and plus athletic ability. It's still his shot-creation that separates him. It popped right away during step-back moves, crossovers into pull-ups and behind-the-back-dribble pull-backs. Porter can separate into jumpers that fall in his shot-making wheelhouse. He shot 41.2 percent from three. He's also smooth in the open floor and capable of playing through contact around the basket. He's shown potential as a passer as well, though his decision-making isn't up to speed.
The downside to Porter's fancy scoring game is his tendency to settle for hero shots. He takes low-percentage, contested two-point jumpers. He can be a ball-stopper. He needs to improve his understanding of how to score within the flow of an offense. Porter shows little interest in getting to the basket in the half court. His 24 made free throws all season are a reflection of his questionable shot selection and level of concentration (52.2 percent free-throw shooting). His 39 turnovers to 30 assists highlight his suspect playmaking IQ.
Porter had some impressive defensive sequences, demonstrating both strong on-ball pressure and the instincts to make reads off the ball. He has promising tools for defending opposing wings. Expect lapses here and there, particularly early, but with enough coaching and work ethic, Porter has the chance to add value as a two-way player.
Porter averaged just 22.1 minutes and 7.5 field-goal attempts per game in college, so it's unlikely he'll offer anything more than random scoring outbursts as a rookie. He's too talented as a finisher and shot-maker to go completely quiet, but his appeal stems from long-term potential once he picks up on the nuances of the NBA game. That won't be in his first year. Suspended by USC during the regular season, he also has some maturity questions to answer.
Projected role: Scoring specialist
Porter's identity will be built around his scoring. Consistency will determine whether he's more of a bench spark or starter who can approach 20 points per game. Scouts have considered him one of the draft's biggest wild cards given his upside and style of play, which is vulnerable to inefficiency. The safest projection envisions him mirroring Kelly Oubre Jr., who started slowly before thriving with his second NBA team.