Basic Stats: 2.1 PPG, 1.5 RPG, .3 APG, .36 FG% (37 Games Played)
Your opinion about Otto Porter is probably based on how you would answer the following question: Was Otto Porter’s unremarkable rookie season a result of his deficiencies as a player or was it a result of him playing the only position on the roster where depth existed? No matter how you answer this question, Otto Porter had a rough introduction to the NBA. It started in the Las Vegas Summer League, where he struggled knocking down his jumpshot and creating offense for himself. Quite frankly, looked weak and a step slow compared to the competition, and completely out of position when the Wizards experimented with him at shooting guard. His experience in Las Vegas lasted barely over two games as was shutdown with a hamstring injury early in his third game. Next up was a hip flexor injury he suffered when slipping in voluntary pre-training camp workouts at the Verizon Center which wiped out all of training camp, pre-season, and the month of November for Porter. When he did return to practice, he was likely rushed back to the court when the injury big hit the team (specifically Bradley Beal). After early struggles in live game action and a return to health by the injured, Otto basically disappeared from the rotation playing sparingly over the next couple of months.
Next Season and Improvement:
I tend to think his undistinguished rookie season was a result of depth at his position in addition to the circumstances at hand. He did have work to do physically to adjust to the NBA game but on top of that, this season had a clear mandate–to make the playoffs. Ownership set the bar and a head coach in what was likely his last opportunity manning the head chair was not going to let it ride on a rookie. Not when he had Trevor Ariza rolling in the midst of a career season and Martell Webster who had just recently signed a full mid-level exemption deal to remain in Washington. While I tend to the latter explanation, I must admit it was concerning that Porter wasn’t in a position to step in and contribute while Webster was struggling mightily in the playoffs. Was that Randy Wittman’s unwillingness to put a rookie in that situation or Porter’s unpreparedness?
What’s next for Otto isn’t clear yet. Much like the entire direction of the franchise, his sophomore season may very well be defined by what happens this offseason with one of the Wizards major free agents, Trevor Ariza. If Ariza is re-signed, he’s starting and likely playing 30 minutes per game. That leaves roughly 15 minutes per game for Porter at his natural position and possibly an additional 10 minutes or so backing up Bradley Beal. Oh wait, Martell Webster is still around and slicing those 25 minutes up two ways between Porter and Webster won’t benefit either. There are two likely ways this plays out; 1. Ariza re-signs, Webster is traded and Porter assumes his role, or 2. The Wizards allow Trevor Ariza to depart and let Webster and Porter compete for the starting spot in training camp. A third more remote possibility is Porter being traded (complete hypothetical but why not make him the centerpiece of a sign and trade for restricted FA Greg Monroe? Both players share the same agent and David Falk may think that deal represents a better situation for each player, but I digress).
Porter’s role, assuming he steps into the rotation next season, is a 3 & D small forward role. He’ll be asked to play defense, run the floor, move without the ball, and knock down the open jumpshot. That doesn’t seem all too exciting of a prospect for someone who was drafted third overall, but how many opportunities can we realistically expect him to get sharing the floor with two big men who need the ball and a backcourt duo who lead the team in scoring? It’s a role similar to what Trevor Ariza is currently playing, and playing well for that matter. While he has Ariza type qualities he also may be better adept at operating in the midrange or high post, and is constantly cutting without the basketball. Will his skill set be incorporated into the offense or will Randy Wittman simply look to replicate what they have with Trevor Ariza?
Porter’s ultimate “upside” will be dependent of if he’s able to create his own offense or will he dependent on point guard play to find him in the corners and moving without the ball. These are primarily the same questions which people had about him prior to the draft which is why some preferred drafting Nerlen Noels despite of the injury. I can’t agree with the notion that Otto Porter will be a bust however. At worst he’s a forward with incredible length who should develop into a solid defensive player with the ability to knock down an open jumpshot. However based on how limited his rookie season was, we frankly haven’t answered any questions in regards to Porter.
Final Grade: Incomplete