Washington Wizards 2017 Season Review: Otto Porter

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 16: Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards puts up a shot in front of Dennis Schroder #17 of the Atlanta Hawks in the first half in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 16: Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards puts up a shot in front of Dennis Schroder #17 of the Atlanta Hawks in the first half in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Washington Wizards fans were pleasantly surprised by the strong season from Otto Porter, in only his fourth year in the league. He was the team’s steady third option, and willing to play a less exciting role on the team. After contract negotiations this summer, Porter will enter next season as the highest paid player on the team.

Regular Season Stats: 80 Games, 13.4 PPG (51.6 FG%, 43.4 3P%), 6.4 RPG, 0.5 BPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.6 turnovers per game, 32.6 MPG

Playoff Stats: 13 Games, 12.2 PPG (53.2 FG%, 28.2 3P%), 5.8 RPG, 0.5 BPG, 1.6 SPG, 32.9 MPG

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be posting individual player reviews for the guys that ended the season in a Washington Wizards uniform. So far we’ve reviewed:

Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Jason Smith

Tomas Satoransky

Trey Burke

Brandon Jennings

Bojan Bogdanovic

Ian Mahinmi

Markieff Morris

Bradley Beal

Marcin Gortat

The final two. Otto Porter and John Wall. It’s fitting that these reviews are last, seeing how intertwined their games were this season. Porter of course, had the best season of his  four-year career, an earned himself a max, 4-year/$106 million contract.

Wall, meanwhile had the best season of his campaign, and averaged 10.7 assists per game. Porter was big in getting Wall to that number, being a primary spot up shooter in the Wizards’ offense.

Coming into the season, much was expected of Porter, but it wasn’t clear how much he would deliver. The 2015-16 season was disappointing for the Wizards, as they finished 41-41, in Porter’s first season as a full-time starter. He struggled early to replace the departed Paul Pierce, before improving his shooting percentages after the all-star break in February.

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In the 2016-17 season, Porter continued his hot shooting. He famously led the league in three-point percentage for the first half of the season. He proved a perfect wing running mate for Wall. Porter’s 6’8″ frame, made him a surprisingly fast option running next to Wall, and his three-point accuracy helped, as many defenses lost him while defending Wall in transition.

An Otto Porter transition highlight reel could easily go over 10 minutes, and it is harder than many realize to make the right decision about when to run to the hoop, and when to run to the three-point line.

Here, Wall’s pass got most of the shine, but look at Porter’s quick steps to get open and in position for the pass.

It’s amazing that in a few years, Porter went from a player many considered a bust, to a max player. His hip troubles in his rookie season limited him to 37 games, and his second year he only played 19.4 minutes per game because of the presence of Pierce.

Injuries held back Wall and Bradley Beal early in their careers, and it’s possible that premise fits Porter’s career arc as well. He still had hip trouble this past season, but it was certainly his most healthy season to date. He only missed two of the 95 regular and postseason games, and his body held up with the pounding he took by spending more time than ever at power forward in Scott Brooks’ offense.

In fact, one of Porter’s most redeeming qualities is his willingness to be physical and hustle. Every team needs a player with a relentless motor, and Porter has fit that bill many times. Porter was third in rebounds per game, 0.1 rebound behind Markieff Morris, and averaged 1.5 offensive rebounds per game. Porter was 10th in the NBA among players 6’8″ or shorter in offensive rebounds per game.

Of course, offensive rebounds lead to second chance points, and force the defense to box out and expend more energy than usual on defensive rebounding. A long time weakness of many NBA defenses is boxing out, and Porter has found a way to exploit that to the Wizards’ benefit.

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Back to his three point shooting prowess. Porter shot 46.6% from three in 55 games before the 2017 All-Star break, and 44.7% in 31 games post 2016 All-Star break. Looking at that number as a season, that would be 46% shooting on 356 three-point attempts. Only 9 players in the three-point era have shot over 46% on at least 4 three-point attempts per game.

In 2016-17, even after a poor shooting end to the season, he still ranked 5th in three-point percentage among players who shot at least 100 attempts on a season. As the game has changed to league that requires a lot of three-point attempts and makes, a player like Porter shoots a high percentage, defends, and who doesn’t need the ball much is vital.

That post-All-Star break slump does have fans worried though. After the break, Porter shot 34.1% from three, down 12 percent. The arrival of Bojan Bogdanovic may have been a factor. The 8 day break may have contributed, as players get out of their everyday rhythm. The entire Wizards team played worse post break than prior.

When Bogdanovic came to Washington, it was anticipated he’d be a gunner off the bench. He could get to the line and shoot threes at a high percentage. He’s also 6’7″, so his position overlapped some with Porter’s. Considering Bogdanovic had at least 27 points in three of the first seven games, it was difficult for Brooks to limit his playing time.

While Bojan brought hot shooting to the table, the team missed out on having Porter’s defense and hustle on the floor in many games. He played four less minutes per game after the break, and spent many fourth quarters riding the bench. With how well Porter played before the arrival of Bojan, I wondered if his decline in production would lead to him not receiving a max contract. Clearly he did enough early in the year to show the Wizards that they needed to retain him at any cost necessary.

He had his career high 34 points in November, in only the seventh game of the season.

As humans we tend to have recency bias (understandably), and that has led to much of the debate of Porter’s worth.

After his excellent start to the season, his play trailed off in late in the regular season, and in the playoffs. There were varying factors, but his 28.2% three-point shooting in the postseason was alarming. Teams focused more on Porter late in the season, and he could no longer get away with being the forgotten man in the corner. He got less open looks, and had to create his own offense more often. He still shot a terrific overall field goal percentage though, and proved he can be effective when his three point shot isn’t falling.

He scored 0 points in Game 6 against the Celtics, which was forgotten about because of Wall’s amazing clutch shot. He responded in Game 7 with one of the best games of his career, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, two steals, and one block in 39 minutes. He missed both thee-point attempts, though, hampering the Wizards ability to stay with the Celtics.

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His usage % dipped in the playoffs as Wall and Beal took on more responsibility, and the various mismatches caused problems from time to time. He struggled some games when being defended by 5’9″ Isaiah Thomas, before being more aggressive with Thomas in the post in Game 4.

Even with his up and down end to the season, Porter still had one of the most efficient seasons in league history. He averaged only 0.6 turnovers per game, and shot over 53% from the field and 43% on threes.

Although his salary now makes him the highest paid player on the team, no one will be expecting Porter to become an All-Star overnight. He simply needs to continue to improve on his game, abend become the team’s consistent third threat.

I expect the Wizards will make Porter a more consistent part of the offense, and impress on him to be aggressive in creating offense for himself. He averaged only 10 three-point attempts a game last season, and should try to make his way to over thirteen. If he can shoot 46.6% from three as he did before the All-Star break in 2016-17, that would be great as well.

Grade: B+

Next: Wizards Keep Word, Match Otto Porter's Offer Sheet

Porter will by far have the highest expectations of his career, but as he’s done most of his career, I’m confident he’ll prove the doubters wrong.