Otto Porter: The Simple Pick
Winning is simple. You cherish the cumulative contributions, ignore mistakes made along the way, and celebrate those individual performances that stand out. But winning hasn’t happened, so many fans of the Washington franchise have moved on. Countless were never even allowed to cultivate a fandom with the Wizards; losing is not a very welcoming trait. Those left pick apart every detail until the ritual of such almost becomes comforting. We kill the simplicity.
The complication was given a reprieve on NBA Draft night 2013 in Brooklyn: Otto Porter was the simple pick. Albeit still unproven on an NBA level, Porter brings the Wizards another step closer to the simple life of winning. John Wall was a step, an entry perhaps. Bradley Beal was too. And more than any other move the Wizards could have made, by trade or selection, Porter was the best path to the franchise becoming known for something other than losing.
Even before the lottery, perhaps before the end of the season, Wizards brass was hoping for Otto Porter. Rumors about Anthony Bennett were simply peddled pixels from Monumental Sports to feed “the beast,” as Ted Leonsis calls the Internet. Ironically, Wizards fans avoided an angst bullet when the two players debated against Porter most, Bennett and Victor Oladipo, went first and second to Cleveland and Orlando respectively.
How could the Washington franchise have been so lucky to land local talent, potential, defense, selflessness, and size in one nice little package with their jump from 8th to 3rd? Not counting chickens here, because these Wiz Kids still have some hatching to do, but a nice piece has been added to the roost.
If Otto Porter’s ceiling is Tayshaun Prince, then the Wizards are gravy. But he was drafted with the hope of being much more.
One of the more unique aspects to Porter’s simplicity is his ascent in basketball while not involving himself in America’s AAU system. We prod the ills of the AAU, and rightfully so, but this is not to say there are exceptions to the rule, inside and out AAU. The Washington Post’s Mike Wise recapped Porter’s pedigree in a pre-draft column:
If you don’t know Porter’s story, it’s worth summarizing again if only because of its uniqueness within the youth basketball community. Unlike nearly every young American kid who is deemed to have a game by 10 years old, Porter never attended a Nike or Adidas camp, never even played for an AAU summer league team.
Even though the summer-circuit prep showcases give youngsters a chance to be seen and scouted by college coaches and NBA people, most of those gatherings are essentially cattle calls for post-adolescent boys, who are judged on how well they separate themselves from their teammates and opponents—not how well they blend in and actually learn to be part of a team.
Soon after he was selected, I asked Porter about his non-AAU path. Why?
“I think I just wanted to be good, you know… I wanted to do something with basketball. And I felt like in the summertime, why travel all over the place, play a couple of games. Why not just stay home and work on your game yourself. You know that you’re doing something everyday to get you better. So I felt like that was the best way to do it, and it paid off.”
Simple basketball, not a beauty pageant. Drafting the plain, team-centric player, not the Susan O’Malley marketing special.
He is “No Lotto Otto,” the last leg of path toward disassociation with what has become a rite, the NBA Lottery. Next stop: Playoff Religion.
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