The Washington Wizards are led by the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. However, one player in their frontcourt often goes unnoticed. While Beal and Wall have done the heavy lifting over the last three seasons, it’s been Otto Porter who has been the missing link. If Porter can finally blend his game with Wall and Beal’s, the sky is will be the limit for the Wizards in 2018.
But the question still remains if Porter is ready?
Since entering the league in 2013, Porter has upped his game every season. He’s gone from 2.1 points as a rookie to 14.7 in 2017. But has he done enough to earn an All-Star invitation? Not yet, but it’s coming. Look around the Eastern Conference and ask if there four better SFs than Porter?
The Philadelphia 76ers can make a strong case for Robert Covington. The Boston Celtics will throw Jayson Tatum into the mix, Toronto will showcase Kawhi Leonard while the Bucks will throw in Kris Middleton. Other than those players, how many actually have the ceiling that Porter has?
The reason Porter has stayed under-the-radar is due to the explosiveness of Beal and Wall. But a closer look will reveal how dangerous he could be if given the opportunity to shine.
In 2017, Porter averaged 14.7 points and 6,4 rebounds per game while shooting .503 from the floor, including .441 percent from three-point territory. With Beal and Wall feeding off one another, Porter, as a third option for the Wizards averaged 11.5 shots per game. While Middleton, Leonard, and Tatum will take more, Porter still has the chance to put up better numbers than the Bucks, Sixers, and Celtics’ small forwards in 2018.
With the Wizards failing to meet expectations the last few seasons, it might be time for Scott Brooks to open up his playbook and let showcase Porter’s talents. What makes this Porter situation so intriguing is that he’s the Wizards’ highest-paid player heading into 2018. For a moment last offseason, many expected the Wizards to let Porter walk in free agency. However, the Wizards shocked many by giving Porter a 4-yr $106 million contract after they matched the Nets offer.
When you think of Otto Porter, what player comes to mind that he resembles? For me, it’s Leonard. Middleton is a slasher and perimeter threat. Tatum is coming into his own but, much like Porter, he will be overshadowed by bigger names on the roster. Then you have Covington who has to separate his game from Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Then you have Leonard. In his time with the Spurs, he blossomed in a great two-way player. He has won DPOY twice but his scoring and rebounding have improved tremendously over the years.
This is what the Washington Wizards should expect from Porter this season. They need him to be the glue that will hold the team together. Wall and Beal will demand the respect of any defense but it’s Porter who will make them pay. At 6-8, Porter can handle the ball pretty well for a frontcourt player. How many times have we seen him snatch a rebound and lead the fast break? Playing above the rim comes natural and as a defender, he’s improving each year. But take a look at his turnovers. While players are trying to do too much on the court, Porter is one of the rare players in the NBA who averaged just one TO per game. He’s smart with the ball and his decision-making.
If the Washington Wizards are to be competitive in the East, they will need Porter to be on his A game the entire season. There can be no more head-scratching moments that he’s known for. There will be times as we noticed in 2017 where Wall or Bela will be ut due to injuries or get into a rut where the ball is not falling for them. Not many teams in the NBA can say they have a third option who can score 20 points while grabbing 10 rebounds just waiting or an opportunity
Remember, there was a time when some doubted Leonard, Covington, and Middleton. Looking back, the same smirks have been given to Porter. “What is he doing shooting that”? “Why doesn’t he assert himself more”? Well deserved criticism and it’s about time that Porter shuts everyone up.