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USC Basketball: Lottery Destinations for Kevin Porter Jr.

The lottery finally come, and teams’ draft position has solidified. As national coverage has centered around the top three picks, we focus on where USC wing Kevin Porter could excel.

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

This past season, Kevin Porter Jr showed flashes that justified his status as a projected first round pick and his high school pedigree. Porter Jr never produced at a consistent level, playing only 21 games in the season with averages of 9.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. After missing the start of the season to injury, he faced a mysterious suspension in the middle of the season for a still-unknown reason, and never put it together when he did take the floor. He was an imperfect fit in the Trojan offense, taking tough isolation jumpers outside of scheme. His lack of regard for USC’s system manifested here, where Doug Gottlieb astutely details the end of USC-Oregon State.

Still, Porter has all the physical tools and skills necessary to succeed on the next level. Porter is listed as a shooting guard, but profiles as a slashing wing at 6’ 6” and 218 pounds. He certainly has NBA athleticism, with the height and wingspan (6’ 9”) of a solid defensive player. His offense, though inconsistent at USC, is comparable with the production of Zach Lavine at UCLA. Lavine, who averaged 9.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists averaged subpar numbers in college. But his game translated better in the NBA then it did at UCLA. His athleticism, size, and skill set was more valuable in the well-spaced, free-flowing pro game. Plays like this scream Lavine.

Porter can be a similar tale. Though he is smaller and less athletic than Lavine, Porter is a better shooter, slashing 51.7 percent from two and 41.2 percent from three this past season. These are great numbers, especially for a player who lives on contested jumpers. Just look at the level of difficulty on these shots.

Porter’s shot-making ability does have one caveat, however. He shot only 52.2 percent from the free throw line, which is more predictive of NBA shooting success than shooting percentages from the field.

All this being said, Kevin Porter’s stock can rise in a draft littered with question marks outside of the top five. Here are Porter’s best fits within the lottery:

1. Charlotte Hornets (Twelfth pick)

Regardless of whether star Kemba Walker stays or leaves, the Hornets are not in a position to be picky about position or fit. They must take the most talented player available. Fortunately for them, the Kevin Porter could be both the most talented player and the best fit, depending on the Hornet’s big board. Charlotte needs a bucket-getter outside of Walker. For the past few seasons, Charlotte has been demonstrably worse without Walker on the court. That glaring need was why Charlotte acquired an aging Tony Parker last offseason. In adding Porter, Charlotte could rely on his start-from-scratch ability to stay afloat in the time without Walker. Playing as a primary ball handler in stretches without Walker could also push Porter to create more for his teammates, a la point guard Devin Booker.

2. Washington Wizards (Ninth pick)

The fit here seems tricky, since the Wizards best player, Bradley Beal, plays the same position as Porter. But Porter profiles similarly to ex-Wizard Kelly Oubre. Porter could slot right into the spot that Oubre occupied before he was traded to the Suns, splitting small forward duty with Troy Brown. Though the duo would be relatively small for the three, the Wizards and not in a position to be picky. And the defensive potential of switching the one through three of Tomas Satoransky, Bradley Beal, and Kevin Porter will give Scott Brooks three quality perimeter defenders. On the offensive end, Porter would provide the Wizards an outlet for isolation scoring, relieving Beal’s burden of carrying the offense.

3. Miami Heat (Thirteenth pick)

The Heat are an interesting fit for Porter. Many Heat fans have Porter on their radar, yet Porter’s ceiling looks a lot like Heat wing Josh Richardson, a two way, sweet-shooting, playmaking wing. A pessimist could argue that this makes Porter a horrible fit along the Heat.

Optimists will say, however, that Porter will give the Heat an identity to lean into. If Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley continue to develop Justice Winslow as a point guard, the Heat may have three wings to share ball-handling and decision making duties. The Heat could become the Sacramento Kings of the east, with less shooting, but with three ball handlers instead of one. This one through three combination would have no defensive deficiencies for opposing teams to pick on: the Steph Currys and Damien Lillards of the world would not be able to pick on perimeter defenders on the Kevin Porter Heat.