Washington Wizards: Don’t overlook Otto Porter

Washington Wizards, Otto Porter (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards, Otto Porter (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Even though Bradley Beal had a 43-point triple-double, Otto Porter may have been the Washington Wizards’ most important player on Sunday.

While the D.C. area was hunkering indoors for a frigid snow day, things were heating up for the Washington Wizards inside Capital One Arena. Against arguably the league’s best team in the Toronto Raptors, the Wizards fell just short in double overtime, 140-138.

Much of the attention in the loss was given to Bradley Beal, and rightly deserved after a triple-double of 43 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists. He’s destined for the All-Star next month and one of the hottest players in the entire league.

That said, Otto Porter was the true difference maker in Sunday’s game. Oft-maligned, recently injured, and designated to a reserve role, Porter has become a bit of an afterthought, but the Wizards wouldn’t have been in that game without Porter.

His box-score numbers were very impressive. In 44 minutes off the bench, he had 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting (including five for 10 on three-pointers) and eight rebounds.

But it was his plus-minus that truly set him apart from not just his teammates, but anyone else in the game. The Wizards were +23 with Porter on the floor! The next closest Wizard was Troy Brown Jr. at +8 in 10 minutes. Beal, for his dominance, was just +4, the highest among Washington’s starters.

Porter clearly had an impact when he was on the floor. For a team with as much depth as the Raptors, Porter elevated the Wizards’ second unit and could hang with both teams’ starters as well. He was in the game when the Wizards chipped away at their sizable deficits at the end of each half.

His versatility also served them well, particularly at the end of regulation and both overtimes. He could switch on to All-NBA wing Kawhi Leonard, veteran big man Serge Ibaka, or crafty point guard Kyle Lowry defensively, and helped spread the floor on the offensive end.

Since coming back from injury on January 2, Porter has been playing his best basketball of the season. In the seven games since his return, he’s the team’s second-leading scorer at 16 points per game, including shooting 45.7 percent on three-pointers, both statistics well above his season averages.

On the glass, Porter is also getting it done, especially with the Wizards incredibly thin down low. His 5.3 rebounds per game since his return may not seem like much, but among non-centers on the Wizards, he has the highest defensive rebounding rate, grabbing 17.9 percent of all available defensive boards. With the team rebounding by committee now to make up for their lack of center depth, Porter is definitely doing his part.

Next. Revisiting the Beal-to-Toronto rumors and what they mean. dark

Porter has been the lesser member of Washington’s Big Three since he was drafted, but he’s been invaluable with one-third of that trio now out for the season. He showed it against Toronto on Sunday, and has been showing it in the first couple weeks of 2019. He needs to continue to do so for the Wizards to stay in the playoff mix.