Washington Wizards: Should Garrett Temple Start Over Otto Porter?


Washington Wizards: Should Garrett Temple Start Over Otto Porter?

Today, my good friend and colleague Osman Baig made the case for Kelly Oubre starting over Otto Porter. Read the article, it’s fantastic – especially the ending, where he jokingly suggests that he could also make the case for Garrett Temple starting over Porter too. Hahaha, I know, right?

No one could be crazy enough to suggest that a 29-year-old former D-Leaguer should be starting over the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, right?



I am the proud possessor of numerous Washington Wizards opinions that most people would describe as “dangerously stupid” – it was Randy Wittman‘s fault that Jan Vesely failed, that the Wizards should have done everything they could have to keep Alonzo Gee, that Fabricio Oberto was actually good, etc. – but “the Wizards should start Garrett Temple” is not one of them.

To make the case that someone should displace Otto Porter from the starting lineup, one has to actually prove that Otto has been trash, and thus needs to be displaced. Oz already did a good job of this, but let’s recap quickly: He still can’t shoot the 3-ball consistently, and everyone he guards magically transforms into Stephen got damn Curry. That sounds like enough to consider making a change over, right?


Kelly Oubre is a fine young player who I’m completely all-in on – if the Washington Wizards elect to go with him in the starting lineup, I’m fine with it. But the biggest problem with starting Oubre is this: Especially at this point in the season, with all the injuries Washington has, they’re counting on their starters to play big minutes.

Oubre has so consistently been in foul trouble that it’s forced Wittman to alter his plans in his three starts.

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Even against Memphis, where Oubre played the best all-around game of his young career, he only managed 20 minutes after racking up four fouls.

He’s earned consistent minutes, there is no doubt.

But the true breakout star of the last couple of weeks has been Temple, the guy who’s always just kind of been there on the Wizards roster, rarely turning heads for good or for bad.

The amount of minutes Temple has been playing lately is obscene – 42 against Sacramento, 40 against Memphis – yet the Wizards are winning, and it follows a trend.

In games where Garrett Temple plays 20 minutes or more, the Wizards are 9-2.

Temple has the second-best average plus-minus on the team at +1.4, behind only Nene at +1.7 – John Wall and Jared Dudley are the only other two Wizards who are on the positive side.

Lineups where Temple plays alongside the Wizards’ starters have been almost wildly successful. Temple is +12.3 per 100 possessions with John Wall, +10.4 with Marcin Gortat, +10.0 with Jared Dudley – and lineups where Temple is the third guard have been brilliant, with either Wall or Ramon Sessions running point.

Temple’s net plus-minus would be even better, if only for two factors: the Wizards haven’t done well when he’s out there with Gary Neal (OK, that can be avoided) and they’ve been brutal when he’s been out there with DeJuan Blair (Well, DeJuan Blair is terrible).

These numbers aren’t accidents.

Good things happen when Garrett Temple is on the court.

Namely, the ball movement is much better, and the Wizards record upticks in rebounding percentage (+2.5%), assist percentage (+1.5%) and effective field goal percentage (+2.6%) when Temple’s out there.

Let’s apply two of those stats I mentioned in the last paragraph to Temple’s opponents: when the former LSU Tiger is on the court, opponents are showing a decrease of over 5% in effective field goal percentage and an assist percentage that’s 3.5% lower as opposed to when he’s off.

Temple – who has often guarded the other team’s 3 this season – has been a much better defensive player than Porter, especially closer to the hoop.

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Porter has allowed opponents to shoot 15.3% higher than average inside 6 feet, while Temple is forcing his opponents to shoot 6.8% below their average from the same range. 

And Temple’s done better shooting the three than Porter, and not just in his recent hot streak.

Let’s not forget that Temple shot a respectable career-high 37.5% from long range last season, and while his 31.1% mark this season is a step down, it’s still better than Porter’s 27.4% mark, and he’s hit 45.5% over the last three games.

Temple’s scored 20 points in each of DC’s last three wins, a scoring streak unparalleled among players who failed to score 20 points in any of their first 250 games.

Can you really count on Temple to keep dropping big point totals every night? History would tell you almost definitely not – he had a similar streak at the beginning of last season, and fell back to Earth.

But it’s obvious that Garrett Temple is playing with extreme confidence on the offensive end. What’s wrong with trying to ride the hot hand. It hasn’t just been shooting, it’s been his aggression attacking the basket, which we’ve rarely seen before from him – he usually plays with very good energy, but it hasn’t before translated like that.

What we’ve seen in the past week is The Best Of All Possible Worlds Garrett Temple, but even Regular Ol’ Garrett Temple has been a big plus for this year’s Washington Wizards, especially with increased minutes. And quite frankly, I love three-guard lineups. I love them so much I want to inject the concept into my veins.

I’ll echo Oz here – nobody is saying that Otto Porter should be benched entirely. He’s a rotation player, and often a very strong one at that. But in the starting lineup? Give me Garrett Bartholomew Temple.

But David, if you’re making this argument, I’m surprised you haven’t done the same for Ramon Sessions.


LOL, nah.

Next: Should Oubre Start Over Porter?

Happy holidays, Wizards fans.