When the Toronto Raptors needed to replace the two-way contract of Ron Harper Jr, following his injury, Masai Ujiri opted for size over skill when he signed 6-10 big man Jontay Porter to fill that vacancy. Like most two-ways, however, his path to playing time seemed limited.
Circumstances have changed after the OG Anunoby trade, as Precious Achiuwa was also sent to the New York Knicks in exchange for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley. Achiuwa ate up a ton of minutes as the team's backup big man, and Toronto hasn't ironed out a perfect plan to fill in for him.
Chris Boucher is a bit too skinny for full-time small-ball center work, Thad Young doesn't have the quickness at this point in his career, and Christian Koloko hasn't fully recovered from his illness just yet. Darko Rajakovic may have stumbled into a stopgap solution in Toronto's win against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Even though Porter was held scoreless in seven minutes, he recorded three rebounds, dished out an assist, and did a solid job of preventing Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant from getting to the rim. With Koloko still on the mend, Porter might get a chance to show he can make it as a backup with Toronto.
Will the Toronto Raptors keep Jontay Porter in the rotation?
Porter, the young brother of Denver Nuggets stud Michael Porter Jr, has already shown that he is way too good for G League play. Porter averaged 18.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per contest in five tremendous games with Raptors 905.
Porter and Rajakovic have some history together, as Jontay's only NBA action came during Darko's first season as an assistant with the Grizzlies. Rajakovic, who remains regarded as a nice developer of young talent, seems to believe in what Porter can do on both ends.
While far from a knockdown shooter, Porter has been a respectable sniper for a big man. Where he really shines is as a low-post defender, as his combination of shot-blocking and quality mobility for someone his size could give him enough of a floor to beat out options like Boucher and Young for those valuable minutes.
The dream scenario for Porter and the Raptors is to give him a full NBA contract, as the team still has one free roster spot left to fill after including Malachi Flynn in the OG deal. Porter doesn't have to be a star to get that spot, but he will need to execute a very specific role.