The NBA’s summer league is a chance for rookies get their first taste of NBA action, undrafted rookies looking to make an impression, and NBA journeymen looking to to land back on an NBA roster. For the Washington Wizards this year summer league will be crucial, but for none of those reasons. It is going to be a key time for one player in particular heading into his second year to gain confidence and experience.
Otto Porter was a bust last season. plain and simple. The swingman out of Georgetown could not crack the rotation for the Wizards for basically all year. He averaged 2.1 points per game on 36.3 percent shooting from the field while only appearing in 37 games. Not ideal for a No. 3 overall pick, to say the least.
However, his opportunity as a rookie was limited. He missed training camp and the beginning of the season with a hip injury. So right off the bat, he had trouble getting acclimated and finding a way into the rotation. Also, it didn’t help that the Wizards had two veteran small forwards in front of him in Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza. Even if he had been healthy all of training camp, he would have had a tough time finding his way into the rotation.
But as summer league kicks off July 11 in Las Vegas, Porter is really going to have a chance to gain some confidence and get comfortable on the NBA court. He is going to be the go-to guy on the summer league and is going to be asked to do a lot. This could be a valuable experience because riding the pine all of this year can shake your confidence and halt your progression. This summer league could help Porter bounce back after a miserable rookie season.
And it needs to because the Wizards are all of a sudden slim at the small forward position. Martell Webster is out 3-5 months after back surgery and Trevor Ariza is an unrestricted free agent. I expect Ariza to re-sign, but if he doesn’t, the Wizards are going to ask for a lot out of Porter. If the Wizards do not re-sign Ariza, I think they will look to sign a starting small forward. They have reported interest in Thabo Sefolosha, via CSN Washington. Regardless, Porter would have a bigger role with Webster missing some of the season.
It is not just summer league that is going to help Porter improve in his sophomore campaign. His individual skill work needs to improve. His strength needs to improve greatly, which will translate to him being able to get to the rim more often and finishing at a higher rate. Hopefully in summer league there will be noted improvement in those areas.
I just think it is going to be good for Porter to get out there and play 30-some minutes a game. It is demoralizing sitting the bench and it is hard to get better in the NBA when there is rarely practice during the season. Porter won’t have to worry about that in Las Vegas and that’s all that matters.