Editor's Note: Please welcome Umair Khan, also known as
@abovelegit @UKhanNBA, to the Bullets Forever team. Umair will be spearheading our 2013 NBA Draft coverage with prospect profiles. Here's his first for us on Georgetown forward Otto Porter.
Position: Small Forward
Expected Draft Position: Top Eight.
College career: Much of what Otto Porter is applauded for now (work ethic, high IQ, maturity) was on full display the moment he set foot in Georgetown. He quickly picked up the various nuances typically associated with Georgetown basketball -- ball movement, weak side cuts, floor spacing and positional defense. Fans marveled at Coach John Thompson III’s latest discovery, as he emerged as the perfect role player for the Hoyas. All this without playing a lick of AAU ball and being moderately recruited out of a small town in Missouri.
Porter started his sophomore campaign off with a bang in front of several NBA scouts anxiously awaiting the debut of Shabazz Muhammad. But it was Otto who stole the show by filling up the stat sheet with 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five blocks, and three steals, a testament to his M.O. of contributing in ways other than just scoring. He continued his brilliance in conference play as well, scoring in double figures in all but one game. No game was more spectacular than his showing against the vaunted Syracuse zone, as he lit them up for 33 points, eight rebounds, five steals and five three pointers -- a personal best for him. His performance prompted some ringing endorsements from Jim Boeheim himself.
All eyes were on the red hot Porter as Georgetown entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 2 in their field and drawing what was a thought of as a favorable matchup against No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast University. In the end, the Hoyas could never match FGCU’s athleticism, and their offense crumbled, going 7-27 from three, with Porter inexplicably going ice-cold from the field. Otto did not change the fate of the Hoya Saxa, continuing their perpetual failures in the tournament, but it will not serve as an indictment on his legacy at the Hilltop, nor his draft status moving forward.
Offense: Porter’s repertoire epitomizes the "old school game" that has become such a rarity among today’s wing players. He spots up from 15-18 feet, he comes off curls to the high post, hits the occasional turnaround jumper and continuously follows up his own shots. He’s come a long way since his freshman season in terms of his fixing his shot mechanics. He has good lift, releases the ball at the apex of his jump (though his low release point could be bothersome) and does a nice job squaring himself to the basket off catch-and-shoot situations. He does have a tendency to rush his shot, and he sometimes fails to locate where the help defense is coming from, though this could be remedied with a reduced role at the next level. He doesn't quite have NBA range on his three-ball yet, but was very comfortable hitting off spot up opportunities due to his quick release.
At 6’8 with a 7’1 wingspan, Porter has exceptional size and length to be an excellent cutter and finisher at the basket, though getting there will be troublesome in the pros. While Porter doesn't suffer from defenses shading him to one side of the floor, his average first step and lack of advanced dribbles counteracts his otherwise-strong finishing ability.
However, scouts are more enamored with his maturity and basketball smarts in the halfcourt. His size enables him to make passes over the top of the defense, and his strong midrange jumper gives him leeway to facilitate an offense through the high post. He generally does a good job reading defenses and knowing when to make his move to the basket, when to kick the ball out and when to make the dump off pass into the paint. Off the ball, he is always moving with a purpose, and does a good job pinning his defender deep and getting good position for quick-hitting post ups.
Defense: This is where Porter’s versatility comes into play. He’s shown that he can play at the top or bottom of the zone, as he can switch onto guards as well as staying physical with more imposing big men. As is the case with most high- ranked Georgetown products, Porter displayed a cultivated understanding of directing traffic as it pertains to funneling his man into help or clogging the lane and preventing easy cuts to the basket. He used his length to play passing lanes and block shots, and he was an excellent rebounder on both ends.
He may never be the lockdown individual defender that’s so heavily touted these days, but in a league where one guy is never enough to contain an opponent, having a cohesive five-man unit that anticipates helpside rotations becomes essential, especially during the playoffs. His average lateral quickness may work against him in a more spaced out NBA floor, but he’s still a player you can plug and play immediately.
Pro potential/Wizards fit: Otto proved his worth as a jack of all trades player, using his well-rounded game to dominate in areas other than scoring. He can be your secondary facilitator in halfcourt sets, he’ll keep his motor running at all times, and he’ll play sound defense. But despite the elasticity in his game, detractors still fear his lack of an elite skill and limited athleticism will hurt him in the long run.
Personally, that reeks of an absurd narrative that’s constantly brought up during this time. The draft paradigm is far too complex for one to be helplessly allocating prospects into specific molds.
The league is constantly evolving, and stylistically speaking, there isn't a more compelling talent than Otto Porter. The mismatches he creates along the perimeter and high post would mobilize a world of opportunity for head coaches, and his defensive impact would do the same. His understanding of the game and physical gifts allows him to play in multiple systems, which gives him a leg up over most inferior forwards he’s oft placed in proximity to.
This is the best case scenario for the Wizards. They lack a dynamic wing threat that can play the 4 in long stretches (though this may not be reasonable from day 1) and a secondary ball handler should things go awry in the half court. He’ll space the floor, provide the team with some much needed midrange shooting -- especially off 1-3 or 1-4 pick and pops -- and is a formidable off-ball cutter.
For a team so skittish about bringing along another rookie, they would be hard-pressed to find a more feasible long term option at the small forward position. As the front office concocts a plan for the offseason and deliberates over trading out of the draft, it would be wise to expend the bulk of their time coming up with scenarios to land Porter at any reasonable cost.