A pathway to playing time for Jontay Porter quickly opened up after signing with the Raptors on a two-way contract in December, an opportunity he’s taking advantage of, writes Sportsnet.ca’s Michael Grange. Toronto traded away Precious Achiuwa, and then Jakob Poeltl got injured, resulting in Porter starting five games in a row for the Raptors.
Porter, 24, had a brief stint with the Grizzlies in 2020/21 but had his career set back by numerous knee injuries and hadn’t appeared in a game since May 2021. Now with the Raptors, some of his recent starts have been productive, including going for 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks against Chicago. He also had nine points, six rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals against Utah.
“I’d have to write a book to write down all the things I’ve learned in this short period of time,” Porter said. “Every game, every matchup it seems like when I’m learning something new. A lot of the time it’s from mistakes I’m making, which, you know, it sucks to make mistakes, but at the same time, not having a lot of experience, I’m just happy to be out there. But I’m learning so that hopefully the next game out I can do better, eliminate those mistakes, and help our team win. But for the steady minutes and the steady gameplay, it’s just a blessing, man. And yeah, it’s been a lot of fun to just play basketball.”
Head coach Darko Rajakovic isn’t just handing out minutes, Grange writes, and Porter’s playing time will likely continue to fluctuate by virtue of the fact that he’s on a two-way contract. He’s also currently dealing with an eye injury. However, Grange points out that Rajakovic was an assistant in Memphis when Porter played there, and that level of comfortability helped Porter get acclimated.
“I like his game,” Rajakovic said. “I think he’s a young player with potential and definitely we want to give him a chance. We’re learning a lot about the team, we’re building a new team over here, so we’re going to give him a really good look, so we know what he’s got to do.”
We have more from the Atlantic Division:
- Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis sprained his ankle and left Boston’s Thursday game against the Heat midway through the third quarter. Porzingis went straight to the locker room and the sprain diagnosis was made minutes later, but according to ESPN, Porzingis said postgame he doesn’t think it’s a big deal. “I just went to contest Bam [Adebayo]‘s shot and just landed on his foot and rolled my ankle,” Porzingis said. “Not too bad. Got me pretty good in the moment. But feeling pretty good now.“
- The Nets have experienced a handful of recent close losses and Cam Thomas is frustrated by the “same exact stuff” that’s plaguing them during this stretch, NetsDaily’s Lucas Kaplan writes. Thomas hasn’t been able to crack Brooklyn’s closing lineup and said his fourth quarter minutes seem to be “random.” Additionally, when asked whether most of Brooklyn’s issues came on offense or defense, Thomas said to “ask the coach.”
- Nic Claxton squared off against Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns on Thursday as the Nets took on the Wolves, holding his own in the matchup and finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. “I think I’m a great big man,” Claxton said via the New York Post’s Bridget Reilly. “Any time I have a matchup like that, one of the quote unquote top centers in the league, I always take it personal to go out and be the best version of myself. I’m an extremely competitive person. I love basketball and I love to compete so I bring that every single night.“