Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. showing no fear with clutch shots

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In a 2021-22 season for the Houston Rockets that is primarily about evaluating younger players, they’re quickly learning one important characteristic of third-year guard Kevin Porter Jr.: He has a propensity for taking and making big shots at the most crucial times.

In a span of just three weeks, the 21-year-old has had quite an eventful start to 2022. It began, of course, when Porter was suspended for his hot temper during a New Year’s Day loss to Denver.

But since returning from suspension on Jan. 5, the Rockets are 4-4 (.500) — a much improved record for a team that was 10-28 (.263) beforehand. More notably, in each of those four wins, Porter has drained at least one massive 3-pointer when the game hung in the balance late in the fourth quarter. That run started with his buzzer-beater at Washington, and it continued with big shots in San Antonio, Sacramento, and Utah.

“All my life, I’ve been wanting those shots,” said Porter, who was selected by Cleveland in the first round of the 2019 NBA draft. “When the moment is hot, I just get a feeling and raise my aggression on offense and defense. I love those moments. I definitely get more confident going down the stretch when it’s a game like that, taking those shots.”

“He never lacks for confidence,” head coach Stephen Silas said of Porter following the San Antonio game. “That’s one of the things I love about him. He’s not afraid of the moment, at all.”

To put into perspective how elite Porter’s production has been in big moments, there are 26 NBA players who have averaged at least one 3-point attempt in January with a sample size of three or more “clutch” games — i.e. contests within five points during the final five minutes. Porter ranks second among those 26 players in accuracy (60.0%).

Houston needs that production to translate to earlier minutes, of course, since Porter is shooting just 37.7% from the field and 34.1% on 3-pointers for the 2021-22 season as a whole. But his confidence and execution in key situations offers hope that an uptick could be in the cards as he continues to develop and as the sample size increases.

Scroll on for a look at each of KPJ’s big shots in January.

KPJ in Washington

KPJ in San Antonio

KPJ in Sacramento

KPJ in Utah

Season-long Kevin Porter Jr. clutch shots montage

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