In a relatively forgetful 2013 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards selected Otto Porter with the third overall pick. The hope was that in a few years, he could become a starting small forward to help make the Wizards contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Porter has indeed become the starting small forward, but he is still very much a work in progress. The former Georgetown Hoya had an extremely disappointing rookie season averaging just 2.1 points in 8.6 minutes per game. Not exactly statistics you would like to see from your No. 3 overall pick.
Top picks in the NBA don’t get a ton of slack before the question of whether or not they are a “bust” comes along, and for Porter, it wasn’t any different. Seeing that type of conversation about you in the media can really take a hit to a player’s confidence and unfortunately, he is has a lot of room to grow in that department.
The Wizards did see great signs from Porter at the tail end of the 2014-15 season and in the postseason when former head coach Randy Wittman implemented a small-ball lineup, putting Porter at the small forward and Paul Pierce at power forward.
Just having Pierce on the floor next to Porter seemed to do wonders for his confidence. Good play or bad, Pierce would be in his ear giving his some type of advice, which showed in Porter’s play made him less hesitant to make a play when he had the chance.
After Pierce signed with the Los Angeles Clippers last summer, it was the perfect opportunity for Porter to take the starting small forward position head-on and prove why he was worth a top three pick in his draft.
He showed improvement statistically by posting the best numbers of his three-year career. The 6’8″ wing improved his scoring average to 11.6 points per game, a 5.6 increase from the 2014-15 season. His 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game averages were also significantly better than years past.
Although Porter’s numbers improved, there are still questions about his confidence. At times, he can look like the small forward the Wizards had hoped for when they drafted him, and at other times he can be non-existent during a game.
John Wall recently was interviewed on NBA TV during the Hawks/Wizards summer league game and answered about improvements he wants to see out of Porter next season:
“I think just being confident. I think at the beginning of the season he kind of lost confidence. He said he was mentally and physically tired. I’m like you’re only 20 games in. You work this hard in the summer to get to a starting spot, you have to take advantage of it. I think one thing is he really has to get stronger. I think early in the season we played LeBron, KD, and Carmelo in a week’s span and it wore him down.”
There are plenty of superstars to go around in the league at Porter’s position. He knows that, and should do all he can to put him in place to be effective throughout the 82-game season. The small forward position is the weakest out of the starting five, and it’s imperative that Porter begins to believe in his abilities.
He has shown flashes of being an above-average small forward, so there will be some added pressure next season that he takes the next step and play at that level more consistently.