One of the few bright spots for the Washington Wizards to start the 2016-17 season is the play of Otto Porter. He is averaging 16.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and shooting 60 percent from the field through the first seven games of the season. He’s cementing his status as a very good player with a bright future. But since Porter had shown fairly inconsistent play through his first three NBA seasons, there were simply not enough reasons there for the Wizards organization to extend a long-term contract offer before the extension deadline at the end of October.
Still, there shouldn’t be any reason to worry about his immediate future with the team. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said he has talked with Porter and fully intends to keep him on the roster through him next summer until he hits the free agent market. At that point, the Wizards will match any offers and sign Porter to a longer term contract.
“We like Otto,” Grunfeld told CSN Mid-Atlantic before the season opener at Toronto. He indicated that they like what Otto brings to the table as a really good player who meshes well with stars John Wall and Brad Beal. He pointed out that Otto like to cuts and spot up, and he does a lot of little things that don't show up in the box score.
Porter’s success this season follows a long track record of success at lower levels. In high school at Scott County Central High, Porter earned all-state honors as a junior and senior. He led his team to three straight Class 1 state championships. During his senior year, he led the Braves to a 29–2 record and averaged 30 points and 14 rebounds a game.
Porter had a good college freshman season at Georgetown. As a sophomore, he really blossomed. Porter went on to lead the Hoyas to a 25-7 record and helped them land the number 2 seed in the NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Playoffs. Porter was named the 2012-2013 Big East Player of the year for his efforts and was a finalist for the prestigious Naismith Trophy and the John Wooden Award.
The popular player comes from an athletic family. His father, Otto Porter, Sr., was on the Scott County Central High School basketball team that won its first title in 1976. He still holds the school record with 1,733 rebounds. His mother Elnora was named to the girl’s all-state basketball team in 1985. She tells everyone that she bought Otto a basketball before he even started walking.
So where exactly does Otto Porter fit in the Wizards’ long-term plans? Otto is about as good as it gets in terms of a role player. When it comes to building a team, Porter fits the mold of a guy who is usually the last piece of the puzzle for a contender. A good comparison would here would be Iman Shumpert. Shumpert was a solid player on a bad team in New York, but was instantly able to reach his full potential when he was traded to Cleveland. Porter also has a little bit of Jae Crowder in him, and could learn a lot in terms of aggressiveness and determination from the Boston Celtics Small Forward.
The problem is, the Wizards aren’t quite at the point where Porter can be the last piece. They still need more star power, and they might not be able to get it unless they can find a way to flip Porter’s potential for someone more proven. As good as Porter has been this season, you’d have to think the Wizards would not hesitate to ship him out if they could acquire a star in their prime.
There’s no question Otto Porter has taken a big step forward and will undoubtedly help someone as he continues to develop. Now the Wizards have to go about the challenging task of figuring out whether he serves the team best in Washington or as part of a trade deal that can land them an even bigger piece down the road.