Otto Porter in the Old/New Year — A Wizards Preview Series | Wizards Blog Truth About

Otto Porter in the Old/New Year — A Wizards Preview Series

Updated: October 1, 2015

[TAI’s preview/review series on the Wizards going forward with a look-back on those who graced the team in the past season continues. First up was Kevin Seraphin; then Paul Pierce; then Alan Anderson. Now: Otto Porter, by Troy Haliburton. Read on…]


With great power comes great responsibility, the old adage goes, and if Otto Porter has anything to say about it you won’t notice a drop off in production at small forward in 2015-16. Yes, Porter is still an unproven third-year player with the tendency to produce some of the most jaw-dropping gaffes on SportsCenter’s Not Top 10. But he has shown that he can also be an exemplary jack-of-all trades role player.

No one is asking Porter to be the departed Hall-of-Famer Paul Pierce, but it isn’t too much to expect Porter to fill the void, given his recent playoff performance.

It’s easy to get caught up in the nostalgic moments of Pierce’s “I called ‘game’” shot, but at 37 years old he was not the sole reason why the Wizards were on the cusp of reaching the 50-win plateau. Pierce was an above replacement level player with a 3.9 nERD—’s efficiency metric that indicates how many wins a player adds to a team as a starter over 82 games. nERD is similar to Win Shares, but while Win Shares evaluate only games played, nERD projects player contributions for the entire season. Otto has shown some indication that he is capable of playing to that level, if not greater.

Of course, most of that popular confidence comes from a small sample size of just 10 exhilarating “Stretch Otto” playoff games, but it gave Wizards fans a damn good reason to start counting their chickens before they’ve hatched. Porter is by no means a finished product; but with the proper motivation from an old-school coach like Randy Wittman and a newfound self-confidence, Porter just may be ready to establish himself as a reliable NBA player going forward.

Before we began to look forward on Otto, let’s look back at the ups-and-downs of Porter’s sophomore year.

Best Moment in 2014-15.

Otto’s best moment of the year was his deflection on a potential Terrence Ross tip-in with 0.4 seconds left in Game 1 of the Wizards’ overtime win in Toronto to open the playoffs. It was no slam dunk, but the play encapsulates all of the ancillary things that Porter brings to a basketball team. If Porter didn’t make that play, the Wizards’ (mostly) impressive playoff run could have been spoiled.

Worst Moment in 2014-15.

We all know where this one is going. I can still hear echoes of Gortat screaming “OTTO!” as Porter distinguished himself on the “Shaqtin’-A-Fool” wall of shame. That infamous play, where he was trying to guard Tony Snell but somehow ended up stuck in cement, turned out to be a moment of clarity for Yung Simba’s career. After that misstep Porter found himself buried on the Wizards bench for about two weeks and he must have come to the realization that the number one objective for a professional athlete is knowing your assignment and sticking with it. No napping.

Curious Stat.

The most curious stat relating to Porter might be his 1.82 Offensive Real Plus-Minus, which isolates the unique plus-minus impact of each NBA player by adjusting for the effects teammates and opposing players. Porter ranked 11th in the NBA at the small forward position, despite the fact that he only played 19.4 minutes per game during the regular season. What this stat tell us is that Porter is an efficient offensive player, who, given an uptick in minutes, should see an even larger uptick in production.

Over 82 games Porter put up a meager stat line of 6.0 points per game (PPG), 3.0 rebounds per game (RPG), and 0.9 assists per game (APG). In the playoffs, Porter’s minutes bumped up to 33.1 minutes per game, and his stat line jumped to 10 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 1.8 APG. The crazy thing is that despite Porter’s increased minutes in last year’s playoffs, his usage rate actually dropped from 15.1 to 13.8, meaning that he had the uncanny ability of doing more with less in terms of productivity.

Otto also saw his 3-point shooting percentage increase significantly from 33.7 percent during the regular season to 37.5 percent during the playoffs. It is not out of the realm of possibility to expect a focused Otto Porter to put up a stat line close to those playoff splits for the 2015-16 regular season.

Where Otto Can Improve For 2015-16.

Porter can further help his offensive efficiency by redistributing his shot selection.

In last year’s regular season, 22.5 percent of Porters shots came within three feet of the basket, 29.2 percent from beyond 16 feet but inside the 3-point line (the dreaded long-2), and only 26.6 percent from deep.

In the playoffs, Porter’s shot selection was much more aligned with the 21st-century analytical wave of offensive production: 34.1 percent from 0-to-3 feet, 10.2 percent from long-2 territory, and 36.4 percent from behind the arc. If Porter can make a concerted effort to continue attacking the rim via intelligent cuts down the lane, while also honing his craft from deep, he will have all of the makings of a quintessential 3-and-D player.

Speaking 3-and-D, Otto could definitely use a little improvement on the defensive end if the Wizards are to remain one of the top contenders in the East. Last season Porter produced a porous minus-0.59 Defensive Real Plus-Minus, ranking him outside the top 40 among small forwards. Added muscle in the offseason should enhance Porter’s defensive abilities.

Porter has admitted to concentrating on ball handling this offseason. The eye test tells us that Porter is much more comfortable handling the rock with his dominant right hand, allowing himself to get all the way to the rim. When he tries to go left, he is much more likely to pull-up rather than trust his ability to get closer to the basket.

Of course, the Wizards want Porter to enhance his playmaking skills. But because of the ball dominance of their backcourt, any play-making from Otto is really an added bonus.

If Otto Porter Were a Particular Type of Food, He Would Be…

A loaded baked potato. Hearty enough to stand on its own as a meal substitute, but works best when it’s accompanied by that juicy porterhouse (i.e., franchise player).

[via @SwedenDC]

[via @SwedenDC]

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. Bylines on bylines on bylines.

Will write for food.