OT-TO POR-TER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. OT-TO POR-TER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP.
All last season and leading up to the lottery, it was a foregone conclusion that the Wizards wanted and would somehow draft Otto Porter. He was one of the most stable prospects in the draft, he had a ready-made hometown Georgetown fanbase, and he seemed like a great young addition to the John Wall/Bradley Beal core. Based on projected talent, a Wall-Beal-Porter triad would make the Wizards one of the more competitive teams in the East for years to come. And heck, there was no guarantee Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza were going to be here this season, so drafting porter as Small Forward insurance was a smart move anyway.
But as we moved into the current season, Porter's injury set that core idea and his own development back. Porter played briefly in Summer League, missed training camp, missed preseason, and missed the first 20 games of the season. That injury basically removed any ability for Porter to develop a rhythm or a set rotation spot.
As we saw through the season, he usually got his "opportunities" during garbage time: a human victory cigar or human tall glass of whisky. In each of these moments, he looked like a real NBA player. A real timid NBA player, but still a player. He looked like a guy who didn't quite know the exact timing of the plays, and it seemed like the pressure and attention made him nervous. These drawbacks aren't big problems; these are jitters you can shake off once you've got some more floor time and experience under your belt.
But in the game where the Wizards felt the most pressure to Do-The-Damn-Thing-Already and clinch their playoff spot, the most magical thing happened. The crowd began chanting Porter's name; they wanted their victory cigar. After all, they'd been waiting six years to light up that Stogie. And since the Wizards blew out the Celtics so commandingly, they took all the pressure out of the room. Porter checked into the game to thunderous applause, and he looked looser than he's ever been.
First shot: corner three. Swish.
And everything else was cake from there.
It might seem a little odd to call 9 points (3/3, 1/1 from 3) in under 6 minutes of garbage time a "finer moment" of someone's career, but it was Porter's career high. And even if it was garbage time, he looked like he know what he was doing out there. He loved it, the bench loved it, and the crowd loved it. It was a great end on the floor to a great night for the Wizards.
All season long, we've wondered what the third overall pick in the 2013 draft was capable of doing. In all likelihood, we won't know more in the playoffs. The rotations get shorter, and he still hasn't had enough playing or practicing time to earn a spot hight enough.
So I guess we'll all just have to wait until next year to find out what he can really do.
- For more on Otto's fun night, check out Michael Lee's profile in the Post.
- Oh, and Ted seems to like Porter, too. And he's of the belief that having too much depth at one position isn't a bad thing.
- Sean Highkin at FTW has a great piece on five ideal playoff matchups. The Wizards are featured... against the team I least want them to play.
- Injury prevention is the next big analytics frontier, and Catapult's the top name in the game. [insider]
- Yesterday, the SI Vault honored the Wizards making the playoffs with a bunch of awesome classic pics. Mr. Irrelevant's got'em.