Few rookies come into the NBA after being drafted and are really ready for everything that comes with professional basketball. Whether it is the speed of the game or not being able to adjust to an 82-game schedule, being an NBA rookie is never easy. It becomes an even harder job when a player is forced to miss all of training camp, preseason games and a chunk of the early regular season. Unless the rookie is of the stature of a rookie LeBron James or Kevin Durant, it is a tough task for a rookie who misses that significant time to get acclimated and be an impact player early on.
Rookie Otto Porter is in this exact situation. The No. 3 pick of this year’s draft from Georgetown is struggling to become a fix in the Wizards rotation and has not been the contributor many hoped the versatile wing player could be when the Wizards selected him.
Porter has seen action in 16 games this season after missing the first 18 games of the season because of an injured left hip. He is currently averaging 10.9 minutes per game while averaging 2.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in those minutes. The Wizards are getting virtually nothing from Porter. He does not look comfortable on the offensive end of the floor. He doesn’t have the strength or ball-handling skills to take anyone off the dribble to the basket. He can’t knock down shots from beyond the arc (0-for-7 on the year). His mid-range game has shown promise. I will give him that. Every game or two he will nail a shot off the dribble that will give you some hope that he will be able to take advantage of his 6’9″ frame and score over smaller opponents. Porter just doesn’t have it offensively at this point to really help the Wizards.
Unfortunately, defensively, he has not been much better. However, he has been slightly better and this is where I think Porter may find his niche in this league, if and fact his offense never fully develops. His 7’1″ inch wingspan will eventually be a nice weapon on the defensive end. With those long arms, he can cover more space effectively, break up passing lanes, block shots and make shots more difficult for opponents with his contests. However, he is not up to the speed of the game so he is having a hard time taking advantage of his useful attributes. Missing all the preseason shenanigans and being thrown straight into the fire is a big part of him being one step too slow. He has missed rotations, been slow on close outs and has gotten beat for positioning to rebound.
Another concern I have so far with Porter is his strength. Right now, he is visibly skinnier than most everybody on the court. He gets bullied around in the post and out muscled for rebounds. His lack of strength also contributes to him shooting 38.46 percent around the rim, according to NBA.com/stats. He does not have the body to finish at the NBA level right now. Listed at only 198 pounds, Porter has to (and will) make developing his body a priority as his time in the league progresses.
So, what should the Wizards do with Porter?
The option that the Wizards seem set on for now is what they are currently doing. Try and make Porter a regular fix in the rotation, getting him 10 to 15 minutes a game and hope he improves each and every night. There are benefits to this plan. It will allow him to really get used to NBA action, the life of an NBA player and will allow Porter to watch things from the bench to pickup and add to his game.
However, for every advantage their is usually a disadvantage and in this case, it is no different. I think the disadvantages out way the advantages. First off, Porter is not really getting to play basketball. During an 82-game schedule, teams rarely have a full practice. Teams have shootarounds and games. There is not much player developing going on during an NBA season. So, besides the 10 minutes a game, the shootarounds, and the extra work Porter is putting in on his own, he is not getting much of a chance to hone his skills. It is tough for a player who missed the early part of his rookie campaign to begin to make an impact off just that.
Secondly, when Porter does play, he knows it is only in three or four minutes spurts. Porter and Garrett Temple may come in and replace John Wall and Trevor Ariza late in the first quarter and will be replaced by them within the first couple minutes of the second quarter no matter what. He may come out even earlier if he makes a few mistakes.
So, what does this mean? It means Porter does everything at a superficial level because those are his only minutes. He can’t mess up or those minutes potentially will not be their tomorrow. So, he may not try the move he has been working on in his workouts or take a shot he knows he can make but if he misses, it will be seen as a negative play.
It is difficult to explain, but when you know you only have a limited time to play all you are thinking to yourself is, “do not make a mistake.” And in my opinion, playing through mistakes is one of the biggest keys of player development. It allows players to find out who they really are and what they need to improve in their game. How the hell does Otto Porter know if he is a good 3-point shooter or not when he has only shot seven 3s in 16 games or if he can score around the basket efficiently. He doesn’t. He has only shot around the rim 13 times in 16 games. On average, he is not even attacking the basket once per game. That is ridiculous. He is averaging one assist every two games. How can you get better when you are virtually trying to do nothing on the court? Those statistics do not lie and neither does the eye test. It seems obvious to me that Porter is trying to play mistake-free basketball and not his game that made him an All-American at Georgetown.
So yea, I think the Wizards should just keep doing what their doing with Otto Porter …
You know what they should do? They should send him to their NBA D-League Affiliate, the Iowa Energy, and let this guy play a lot of minutes of basketball and develop his game because he has shown the ability improve quickly.
As a freshman at Georgetown, Porter averaged 9.7 points per game while grabbing 6.8 rebounds and dishing 1.5 assist in 29.7 minutes of action. He shot 52.5 percent from the field, but he shot an abysmal 22.6 percent (12-of-53) from beyond the arc. All in all, those are extremely solid numbers for a freshman in the Big East.
However, those freshman numbers were a distant memory after his monster sophomore campaign. He averaged 16.2 points per game while averaging 7.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 35.4 minutes a game. He shot 48 percent from the field and knocked down better than 42 percent (43-of-102) of his 3-pointers. Those are signs of a player that improved tremendously. He improved in every major statistical category except for his field goal percentage and that dipped because he expanded his mid-range game as well as his perimeter shooting.
Why not let those guy take a flight to Iowa, play 35 minutes a game and really get a chance to play his game. Lets face it, his 10 minutes a game are not giving the Wizards much, if anything. Those 10 minutes can easily be handed to Chris Singleton or Glen Rice Jr. when he gets back and it will not matter.
So, why not take the chance of Porter actually improving in the NBA’s Development League than him playing 10 robotic minutes for your mediocre team? I think it is an easy decision and if the Wizards want to get anything out of Porter this season and even next possibly, it is a move that has to be done.