Kevin Porter Jr. in 'beautiful space' as Rockets enter 2022-23 season


HOUSTON - As Rockets players moved throughout the hallways during Monday's media day at Toyota Center, they headed to different rooms to fulfill media and team obligations, including photography shoots, interviews, advertising videos, and beyond.

One distinctive laugh could be heard every time they passed the doorway that led into the media conference room.

It was not second-year players Jalen Green, Josh Christopher, or Alperen Sengun, nor was it rookies Jabari Smith Jr. or Tari Eason. And if you think it was the newly acquired media sensation who goes by one name, Boban (his last name is Marjanovic), you're mistaken.

The laughter came from a person who some expected would not last in the NBA due to his volatile attitude, as well as a perceived unwillingness to allow people into his life to help due to a strong internal belief that he could handle things on his own.

As Rockets point guard Kevin Porter Jr. entered the room, the first thing he did was greet media members with a smile and "What's good, y'all?" That gesture exuded happiness, which was something his demeanor was lacking a year ago during media day.

"Being in the space I am in now and looking back, it's a beautiful space to be in," Porter told reporters in candid remarks. "I found joy in everyday life, not just getting on the court, coming in and shooting the ball. Waking up every day, I found joy in that. I was drinking more water and being able to just walk and run. Once I was able to count the small things being a blessing again, it kind of just helped me with everything in every aspect of my life."

"The Rockets gave me the opportunity to even get to this point," he added. "Without the year I had last year, I wouldn't discover what this space would be. It's a dope space to be in, and I've been in it for a very long time, probably (since) the end of last year. I plan on staying and letting this be who I am now."

Who Porter is now is not who he was when Houston acquired him from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2021. The former first-round draft pick in 2019 came with a lot of emotional baggage, including a dispute with coaches from the Cavaliers' organization.

Some of that baggage was unpacked at halftime of the New Year's Day game versus Denver, when a verbal altercation with assistant coach John Lucas ended with Porter leaving Toyota Center.

Porter was suspended one game by the Rockets' organization for his actions. The disciplinary action hit home with Porter, as he realized he was one of the team's leaders.

Once he rejoined the team, he was no longer a disruption forcoaches or teammates. Houston got a glimpse of what Porter could become in its last seven games of 2021-22, when he averaged 28.7 points, 7.4 assists, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.0 turnovers per game.

Porter, 22, attributes becoming a point guard to helping him finally realize that he is no longer alone and is a part of an organization that wants him to succeed not only on the court, but in life.

"Changing my position, was like a transition in my life," Porter said. "Being a point guard, you are leading four other grown men into trying to win the game. You have to build that trust and build that respect. And they have to be willing to let you lead, and you have to earn that. I had to earn that last year. Now, I got my guys behind me, and it is a lot easier coming into this season than last season."

With Monday's media day in the books, training camp begins Tuesday in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Stick with Rockets Wire for complete coverage, as our Brian Barefield will be live on the scene.


Boban Marjanovic excited for veteran leadership role in Houston

Alperen Sengun sees Rockets eventually becoming NBA's best team

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire


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