The 2015-2016 season was without a doubt a disappointment for the Wizards. After back-to-back postseason appearances, they took a giant step back with a tenth place finish that left them on the outside looking in once the playoffs started.
Putting the teams' collective disappointment aside, however, it was a success for Washington’s 2013 third overall pick, Otto Porter, who showed flashes of being a more than capable NBA starter.
After a forgettable rookie campaign that saw him play only 37 games and a somewhat disappointing second year that saw him eventually break out in the playoffs, last year, Otto Porter’s third in the NBA and first as a starter, was a major step forward.
In 75 games, and 73 as a starter, Porter averaged over 11 points a night on 47 percent shooting from the field and just under 37 percent from three. While that is a solid number from behind that arc for most NBA wings, Porter proved he could improve on it when he shot close to 45 percent from three after the all-star break.
Offensively, this is all the Wizards need Porter to do. Make open shots and cut to the basket when the opportunity presents itself. Something he has proven to have great instincts for. Washington has two ball dominant guards in Bradley Beal and John Wall who can both get their own shot while creating for others. Porter just needs to convert on the opportunities he is given, in the same way a recent starting small forward for the Wizards did.
In 2013-14, the Wizards first trip to the playoffs during the John Wall era, Trevor Ariza was the starting three-man and one of the Wizards most important players. Ariza averaged over 14 points a game on 40 percent shooting from deep before bolting DC in free agency to receive a payday in Houston. These numbers are ones Porter has the ability to match, but Ariza’s real value lied in his defensive abilities as much as it did in his shot making.
Ariza has the perfect body type to excel at defending on the perimeter. Standing around 6’8 with a long wingspan extending well beyond 7 feet, he is a nightmare for opposing small forwards. He also consistently uses his length to harass opposing shooting guards to compensate for his Houston Rockets teammate, James Harden’s, lackluster defensive efforts.
Porter is the same height as Ariza, if not a little taller, and boasts the same lengthy wingspan.
While Porter will be needed to make the occasional open jumper, more than anything he needs to prove he can be the defensive stopper for the Wizards that Trevor Ariza was. The once top of the line Washington defense really suffered last year playing in a more up-tempo style. Porter doesn’t have the offensive responsibilities Wall and Beal have, so he needs to make sure he is fully exerting himself on defense.
Otto Porter is not, and will never be, an all-star. And that’s okay. Because players who can do the things he has the potential to do get paid like all-stars anyway.
Porter is entering a contract year and has to be salivating looking at the contracts many NBA players received this past summer. I’m honestly terrified what the Wizards might have to pay Porter if he does improve upon his solid 2016 campaign (or even if he doesn’t), but I’m even more excited to see what exactly he can become playing next to a healthy Bradley Beal and John Wall.