• Brian L. Barefield

Porter Making Defense A Priority

Photo Credit/Houston Rockets

During film sessions, most NBA coaches will study the opposing team’s game tape to look for ways to exploit mismatches in their upcoming game.

For example, some coaches will find advantages on the offensive end by getting a slower defender to switch onto their quicker player. Once that happens, the quicker player will use their skillset to benefit from that mismatch

On Wednesday night, I am sure that was the game plan for Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams knowing that his opponent in the Houston Rockets likes to switch a lot on the defensive side of the ball. Enough screens during an offensive set would cause smaller defenders to guard center DeAndre Ayton, where he could use his size and physical presence to dominate inside the paint.

Although Ayton finished the night with 16 points, I am pretty sure he will remember the pesky 6-foot-6 guard who always seemed to be around when he was demanding the ball.

Photo Credit/Houston Rockets

That energetic point guard was Kevin Porter Jr., who has made it a priority to play better defense, and it has shown with his willingness to take on bigger players this season.

With 5:08 left in the second quarter and the Rockets up 48-46, Porter found himself in a high pick n roll situation, leaving him to guard Ayton. The Suns center immediately threw his hand in the air, thinking he had a mismatch against the smaller defender.

He was wrong.

Porter put him on his hip, boxed him out, and dared the Suns to try and get the ball to Ayton.

“His defensive effort has been really good this season,” said Rockets head coach Stephen Silas after the game. “He is taking the challenge and putting extra effort into it. He knows how important he is to our group and our defense. When we get into our switches, he is not afraid, and he is tough. His defense has been more than solid this season.”

Kevin Porter Jr. learning to become a better defender against top talent in the NBA

Porter, 21, mentioned during training camp that he wants to become a two-way player, and to do that he had to be better on the defensive end.

In back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week, Porter almost made it his mission to find future Hall of Fame player LeBron James on the defensive end and guard him one-on-one. Most NBA players would try to avoid that matchup at all costs, but not KPJ. It was as if he welcomed the challenge.

“He has been coming out here guarding the best players, and that is a credit to him,” Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate said about Porter’s defense early this season.

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