Checklist for Otto Porter to Thrive with the Washington Wizards
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Even so, Michael Lee of the Washington Post reported a great deal of optimism for the future when the Washington Wizards selected the reigning Big East Men's Basketball Player of the Year.
Optimism, if not elation, is the correct response for this pick.
At just over 6’8’’ and with a 7’1’’ wingspan, Porter is a terror on the defensive side of the ball who can disrupt passing lanes and quickly turn defense into offense.
The common pro comparison for the newest Washington Wizards' first-round pick is Memphis Grizzlies' small forward Tayshaun Prince.
A May 16 Detroit Free Press article mentioned that the Georgetown alum even gave himself the same comparison. The identical conclusion was drawn by Adam Ganeles in a draft profile of Porter he created at nbadraft.net.
As draft day drew nearer and Porter was looking more and more like a top pick; however, he himself began to sway from this comparison. Prince does have a championship ring and is a four-time All-Defensive Second Team member, but Porter had a different player in mind in the Bleacher Report Pro Player Comparison segment below.
Yep, he said Kevin Durant.
While the Wizards would be happy to get Prince-like production from their No. 3 pick, Porter clearly has loftier expectations for himself. His 6’8.5’’ frame is half-an-inch shorter than both Prince and Durant, but his ability to slash down the lane will make him more than just a defensive presence in the NBA.
The Durant comparison is lofty, though perhaps it was agent David Falk’s predraft comments that increased the confidence of a player who came from very humble origins, as told in this story in USA Today.
His Morley, Missouri roots growing up with a father, Otto Porter Sr.—a hoops star in his own right, led to a player in Porter with sound fundamentals and a love of the team aspects of the game.
Any game featuring Porter will show him constantly diving for loose balls, making solid decisions under pressure and taking quality, high-percentage shots.
Below is both a synopsis of Otto Porter and a checklist for the forward that will help him not only succeed in his rookie year, but in his years ahead in the professional ranks.
Use His Length to Defend Multiple Positions
Porter has a number of strengths that will make him a force on both ends of the floor, but his most useful asset is his length.
Along with this God-given size, his hustle is what makes Porter any coach’s dream.
We’ve talked about what we wanted to establish here last year from a defensive standpoint; he fits that category. He’s a guy that’s versatile. I think he’s going to be able to guard multiple positions. He gives us really good size. He’s just a guy you can put in there and he’s going to make different players better. That’s a huge asset for us.
Wittman sums it up well there. Due to his length, Porter can defend bigger 2-guards that may be a mismatch for Porter’s new teammate Bradley Beal. Taking on Kawhi Leonard-types who can post up on the low blocks also should not be a problem for Porter, particularly if he adds some bulk to his 197-pound frame.
With Trevor Ariza still in the lineup and Martell Webster signing a four-year deal Tuesday according to Yahoo! Sports, Porter may have to play quality minutes at the 4 in his rookie season if he wants to see the floor.
The aforementioned 7’1’’ wingspan is a big part of why Wittman may play the rookie there, but so is Porter being a decent athlete for his height.
This block against Rutgers in March of 2013 answers any questions about his defensive potential, effort and athleticism.
Otto Porter and his hard-nosed attitude will turn deflected passes and steals into transition offense at the NBA level the same way he did in the Big East.
The playmaking Porter averaged 1.8 steals per game his sophomore year and added .9 blocks per game in the same season.
Continue to Improve from Downtown
Porter made massive strides in improving his three-point shooting, such that it is becoming a go-to part of an already highly efficient offensive game.
While he finished a mere 22.6 percent from three as a freshman, he raised that mark to 42.2 percent from beyond the arc in 2012-13.
A shooting motion that was compared to Shawn Marion's in the aforementioned nbadraft.net player profile should continue to improve as Porter gains more confidence in the NBA. If he can cut down on some of the awkward side spin seen in Marion’s jumper when he needs to adjust to a deeper NBA three-point line, Porter's jump shot will continue developing as a weapon in his arsenal.
It is also the major reason Porter was considered one of the best players in the 2013 NBA draft. Answering this major question mark surrounding his game with a strong 2012-13 season proved to many NBA scouts that Porter was dedicated to improving a weakness, and in this case, turning it into a strength.
His ability to elevate off one or two quick dribbles, another element of his game he appears to be developing from this highlights film, should help him when being defended by a similar-sized 3 in the pros.
This tendency to shoot quickly off the dribble, however, leaves Porter appearing tentative to take it to the rim.
Develop a Crossover And Other Penetrating Moves
Watching Porter play, it is hard to identify major flaws without nit-picking.
Though categorized as a jack-of-all-trades, perhaps the one thing that separated Porter from being the elite prospect the 2013 draft lacked was his inability to dominate off the dribble.
Jonathan Givony of Draft Express had this to say on the subject:
Porter struggles to blow by opponents in half-court situations purely using his first step. He's not an exceptionally creative ball-handler, showing just average ability to change speeds and directions with the ball, and not getting very low to the ground with his dribble.
Givony mentions that a lot of this has to do with Georgetown’s offensive system, which has long involved a pass-first approach and does not rely on its best offensive players to take the ball to the rim consistently.
Porter’s role in the system, particularly when he played the 4, was somewhat of a point forward, or a forward who shares the attributes and responsibilities of a point guard and a forward.
Often Porter brought the ball up the court or received it in the high post and facilitated to cutters effectively from that area. This luxury is something his head coach at Georgetown, John Thompson III, explains to his brother Ron Thompson here via CSN Washington.
In fact, Thompson III disagrees wholeheartedly with criticisms of Porter's dribbling. The head coach also has a new comparison for the NBA world.
In a conversation with Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, Thompson III mentions offensive and defensive similarities to Indiana Pacer Paul George, and adds that, “Because [Porter] can take you off the bounce, because he can make a shot, because he can go inside.”
George was a breakout star this year for Indiana and played the biggest role in bringing together a talented Pacers roster. His effective role-playing attitude even led him to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
While Porter will not be stripping John Wall of his ball-handling anytime soon, he will be involved in the offense from the early goings. If he wants to make an impact and help his team go as far as Paul George took the Pacers a year ago, he will need to do more than hit open shots and make the right passes.
Developing some creative dribbling moves could be the missing ingredient needed to take Otto Porter, and the Wizards, to the next level.
Be the Glue Guy the Wizards Need
Porter certainly sees some of that same ability to bring a team together and develop a winning mindset in himself.
In fact, it may be his best attribute.
In speaking with the media after being drafted, Porter stated in a Michael Lee article for the Washington Post that his role on the team is to “Give [the team] that lift that they need, be that glue guy that brings the team together. And come to work hard and have a winning mentality the whole time.”
Considering the depth Washington will have at the 3 now that Webster has returned, exemplifying the sort of selflessness Porter mentions above could be more useful than anything Porter could add to the stat sheet in 2013-14.
As of now, this is the role head coach Randy Wittman will expect Porter to play.
A glue guy allows an already talented roster, one with scorers in Wall, Beal, Webster and Nene, to find mismatches on the floor, to avoid being exploited on the defensive end of the floor and to avoid some of the injuries that plagued the team a year ago.
Porter is a model two-way player who, because of his versatility, grants his teammates the luxury of playing their true positions and not something else.
Ultimately, that is what Otto Porter is for the Washington Wizards.
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