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Otto Porter’s slump complicates the Wizards’ outlook

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Porter’s recent slump has kept the Wizards from reaching their ceiling

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards - Game Three Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

The Wizards have struggled to get on a solid run in the last month and there’s no question Otto Porter’s production has been a big reason why. In January, he is shooting 37 percent from the field and 21 percent from deep on 9.1 shots per game.

Many have pointed to Porter’s lack of aggression offensively as to why the Wizards’ offense sputters late. He is their most efficient shooter and has shown he’s capable of creating his own offense against smaller defenders.

The Wizards are 16-11 when Porter takes at least 10 shots in a game but that number without context is a bit misleading. Porter has played pretty evenly in both wins and losses, according to NBA.com’s stats.

But it might not be Porter’s lack of aggression that’s truly the issue for him — it’s more likely that his health is the issue here.

Porter has been in a slump since he injured his hip in December

Porter has only missed three games this season, but his health has to be considered when asking why he’s slumping.

On December 15, Porter went out after playing nine minutes against the Clippers because of hip spasms. Before that night, Porter only had four games all season where he scored single digit points. He shot 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from three and averaged 14.6 points per game.

Since then, he’s had single-digit scoring nights in seven of his last 13 games, including Wednesday night against the Hornets when he scored six points in 22 minutes. Porter has never been a high usage player, but he absolutely has to produce more for this team to be successful.

He’s dealing with pain in his back and his hip and the team is working through treatment on both. It isn’t enough to take him out of games, but it could certainly be enough to bother him during certain stretches.

He only sat out a couple games with the hip injury, but that doesn’t mean he’s healed. If his hip is bothering him sitting out longer might be a good thing.

We’ve been here before with Porter’s hip

He’s experienced issues with his hip before that have cost him playing time. In his rookie season, he sat out for the first two months of the season with an injury the medical staff couldn’t even identify initially. He didn’t practice until the end of November 2013 and only played in 37 games that season.

Though Porter’s hip has flared up here and there, it hasn’t been anywhere near as difficult to handle as it was initially. He’s played in at least 74 games in every season since. But just because he’s playing doesn’t mean he’s fully healthy. With his back bothering him as well, there is concern that the two injuries could be related.

Still, when he’s on the floor Porter has to be more aggressive

He’s done it before and he’s done it during this stretch. In the last month, Porter has had seven games where he’s taken 10 or more shots and four games where he’s scored at least 15 points including a win over Houston where he scored 26 points, dished out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds.

But the Wizards have to figure how to get his shots off. Porter has always been proficient on catch and shoot attempts. He averages 1.33 points per possession when running off of screens, but only averages 1.4 of those possessions per game.

He also scores a point per possession on post-up attempts, but only averages 0.7 of those possessions per game. He doesn’t get the opportunity to use his size and length against mismatches. His footwork is solid enough to get by bigger forwards and he can overpower smaller ones. The Wizards can make this a bigger part of the offense. It could just be a matter of trading a few possessions from John Wall and Bradley Beal for more Porter opportunities. It could also mean subbing him out early to get him more minutes with the second unit.


Whatever the issue may be with Porter, he and the Wizards have to figure it out. When Porter is good, the Wizards are good. When he’s not, they struggle. Right now, sitting just five games over .500 with a tough schedule ahead, they need to be as good as they possibly can.