We’ve seen this story unfold in the past. Too many fans are quick to push the panic button without seeing the broader spectrum of the circumstance.
Since Otto Porter is the highest draft pick participating in this years Las Vegas summer league, all eyes will be on the Georgetown alumni, as expectations are greater than anything a player could amount to, especially a player of Porter’s caliber. It’s easy to point the finger and become disappointed at Porter’s production thus far, but we often fail to remember that at the end of the day, it’s just summer league.
Coming out of college, Porter was billed as the most NBA ready player, with the ability to fit into any mold the team gives him. Unfortunately, that’s probably not the case. Porter was, and never will be, an elite level scorer. Since he played in a slow-paced system at Georgetown, it will certainly take Porter some time to adjust to the NBA speed of the game, especially since the Wizards are trying to implement a run-and-gun style of offense. The NBA has become so isolation heavy, making Porter’s transition to the next level an even greater task.
Washington didn’t do a great job of getting a point guard for their summer league roster to help emulate John Wall, forcing Porter to try and create for himself, which is probably his biggest weakness coming into the NBA. Bradley Beal, who the Wizards selected third overall in this past years NBA Draft, had to surpass similar obstacles in the summer league. Like Porter, Beal doesn’t have the ball handling capability to create for himself, which leads him to taking ill-advised shots, or shots which we’re simply not accustomed to seeing from either of the players.
Although Porter is probably the most versatile player in this years draft class, Washington has experimented with him right out of the gate. At 6’9 and limited ball handling, the Wizards have played Porter at shooting guard throughout their two summer league games, in order to gauge what he can and cannot do in an NBA setting. Otto Porter has the length and awareness on the defensive side of the floor to become an elite NBA stopper, but without a ridiculous amount of athleticism, Porter will ultimately struggle guarding smaller players, which we’ve seen this past week.
Porter hasn’t shot the ball particularly well these past few games, scoring a combined 15 points in two outings, but that will eventually change once he starts to understand the spacing. Bradley Beal, who is one of the best young shooting guards in the league, struggled to knock down shots with consistency right out of the gate. Porter has to get adjusted to the NBA three point line, which is deeper than the regular college three point arc that he’s gotten used to.
Throughout his struggles, Porter’s defensive awareness and movement without the ball has still transitioned to the next level. Most players tend to falter in all aspects once they struggle offensively, but since Porter has the tools to disrupt offenses with his length, push the tempo and crash the boards, he’ll always find a way to contribute. When Porter hasn’t shot the ball well, he’s always done a good job leaking out on the fast break after a turnover or defensive rebound.
With that said, the majority of his struggles will disappear once he’s paired up with John Wall. With Wall on the floor, Porter won’t have to worry about being the primary option on both sides of the floor, which will allow him to settle down and be himself. Despite being a great college player, Washington drafted Porter because he fits perfectly along side Wall and Bradley Beal.
I wouldn’t worry too much about Porter struggling in the summer league. It’s important that Porter stays confident, especially since he knows the areas he has to improve upon. Like the rest of Washington’s cast of players, Porter has the work-ethic to get past some of the obstacles that have risen since he’s been drafted.
Transitioning to the NBA is never an easy task. It’s important to be patient.
Porter will be just fine.