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Bringing Otto Porter off the bench is working well for everyone

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Detroit Pistons v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Daily Digits is a new daily feature we’re doing at Bullets Forever this year where we look at stats about the Wizards. We’ll dive into the numbers, add context, and discuss how they affect the product on the court.

Today’s stat is the number of shots per game Otto Porter is taking in games he comes off the bench, which is...

13.4

Last week, I wrote about how I was getting antsy about Porter’s returning to the starting lineup. It’s been nearly three weeks since he returned from injury, so there shouldn’t be any concerns about that slowing him down. If there were, you would think that would have kept him from playing 44 minutes in the double-overtime game against the Raptors.

It’s not like the Wizards’ current starting lineup is setting the world on fire. The Satoransky-Beal-Ariza-Green-Bryant lineup is only outscoring opponents by 1.3 points per 100 possessions. They’re playing well — especially compared to some of the other starting lineups we’ve seen this season — but it’s not the kind of performance that makes a team consider bringing a max player off the bench.

The only way to make sense of why the team seems to be sticking with Porter off the bench is to compare his performance as a starter and coming off the bench.

Porter as a starter vs. as a bench player

Position MIN FGA PTS TS% NET RTG
Position MIN FGA PTS TS% NET RTG
Starter 29.5 9.5 11.7 57.9 -1.7
Bench 27.4 13.4 16.8 58 13.8

There isn’t much of a difference in how much playing time he gets. In fact, if you take out his first game back when he only played 13 minutes, he’s averaged 29.5 minutes per game coming off the bench, the exact amount he averaged as a starter. His shooting efficiency is virtually the same as well. He’s only shooting 0.1 percent better off the bench than he did as a starter.

The only thing that has changed is Porter is finally — finally! — shooting the ball more often. He’s taking nearly four more shots per game coming off the bench than he did when he was starting, and it hasn’t affected his efficiency at all. Better yet, the Wizards are flourishing when he’s on the floor because of it. He’s turned Washington’s bench into a formidable unit that can cut into deficits and extend leads.

The optics of bringing a max player off the bench will never look great, but it’s allowing Washington to get the best bang for their buck. As long Porter can keep this up, there’s no reason to mess with something that works so well.