Otto Porter's sophomore season has been marred by three blunders that people hold against him. Everyone remembers when he lost track of Tony Snell on a late possession against the Bulls. Blame it on zoning out, a defensive miscommunication or whatever else you want, bottom line he messed up, and looked silly doing so.
You may also remember how he bothced an alley-oop against the Grizzlies, but honestly, look at the placement of that pass. Wall didn't set Porter up well there. Porter shouldn't get the blame for botching the dunk there.
You can't blame Porter for the third blunder either, being picked ahead of Nerlens Noel. It's not Porter's fault that Noel has blossomed into a defensive stud so quickly, with an emerging offensive game to boot. But the Wizards shouldn't waste time being upset about what they don't have, when what they have in Porter is still quite useful.
Here's three reasons why Otto Porter should getting more playing time as the Wizards get ready for another playoff run.
1. Porter has been markedly better than other options on the wing
Other than Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce, there's no better wing player on the Wizards right now than Paul Pierce. Here's a look at Porter, Rasual Butler and Martell Webster's numbers per 36 minutes since the All Star break, via NBA.com:
But despite Porter being a clear advantage in nearly every stat outlined here, he's struggling not just to get playing time, but to even play at all. He hasn't even come off the bench in three of the team's games since the break, and would have been sat for a fourth if Randy Wittman hadn't subbed him in on the final possession of last week's game against Indiana, when the Pacers spread the floor with four shooters.
Certainly, we understand that Butler and Webster still need to get time here and there. But there's just no good justification for why Porter's minutes have been so sparse, and it's getting so bad that even John Wall expressed some confusion after Sunday's game:
"You got to ask Mr. Wittman that one," Wizards point guard John Wall said of Porter's erratic minutes. "I don't know. He's making the decision of who he feels like subbing in at times and all we can do as professional athletes and players is be ready. You never know when your name's going to be called. Like I said, he hasn't played in a while but tonight he's stepped up and played big for us."
2. Porter is deadly in transition, where the Wizards need every point they can get
The Wizards' halfcourt offense is a mess, and that's not going to change whether Porter is on the floor or not. But at least when he's out there, he can help the Wizards make the most of John Wall and Ramon Sessions' strengths on the fast break. Porter is in the 92nd percentile of the NBA in transition, and only six players (Marcin Gortat, Anthony Davis, Kyle Korver, Nene, Mason Plumlee, and DeAndre Jordan) have attempted 70 or more shots in transition and scored more effectively than Porter.
Plus, Porter averages more steals per 36 minutes than Pierce, Butler or Webster, which in and of itself helps create more transition opportunities for himself and others.
3. Porter is a great fit alongside Paul Pierce in small lineups
It's looking more and more like the Wizards are going to face the Raptors in the playoffs. If so, the Wizards desperately need someone who can keep Patrick Patterson from lighting them up at power forward. Paul Pierce would be the logical choice here, considering how well he played him (and Amir Johnson) in the playoffs last season with the Nets.
If the Wizards do opt to go that route (the optimist could argue here that Wittman may have been sparing Pierce from playing more power forward early in the season for this very reason) they'll need someone to fill in at small forward. All you need to do is go back and compare Porter's numbers with Webster's and Butler's to see who should get the call in that scenario. Besides, we've seen a Wall-Beal-Porter-Pierce-Gortat lineup work with great success already this year.
4. If Porter is going to make the Tayshaun Prince leap, now is the time to do it
For better or worse, the Otto Porter-Tayshaun Prince comparisons are unavoidable. Since that's the case, he might as well follow through and explode onto the scene the same way Prince did in 2003. In a season where things have gotten a bit stagnant, Porter is the team's only hope for some revitalization.