Oubre's Yin to Porter's Yang — Washington at Philadelphia, DC Council (Preseason Game 4) | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Oubre’s Yin to Porter’s Yang — Washington at Philadelphia, DC Council (Preseason Game 4)

Updated: October 17, 2015

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards at Sixers, preseason game 4, Oct. 16, 2015, via Sean Fagan (@McCarrick).


To even type the words Otto Porter into an M.V.P segment is a strange exercise, but it is an event that will probably become more commonplace as the season unfolds. Porter continued his torrid start to the preseason by going 6-for-6 from the field and chipping in three rebounds and two steals before exiting at halftime with what the team called a sprained ankle (which he injured after converting an alley-oop attempt from Bradley Beal). Porter started his night by spotting up in the corner and draining a 3-ball, assisted by John Wall, then quickly went to work on the porous 76ers defense with a pair of reverse layups less than a minute later. Perhaps his most miraculous feat of the evening was draining an eight-foot jumper over the head of Nerlens Noel, which in the past would have hit nothing—leaving the ex-Hoya to hang his head in ignominy. Instead, like the rest of the pre-season, the planets aligned for Porter and the ball sailed through the basket.


On a night where the Wizards led by a margin greater than 20 points for most of the game, it is unfair to pick out one player for “least valuable,” especially when one’s options are limited to the preseason fodder-type there to fill the roster and ensure that the wheels don’t fall off the starters. However, the real problem that bedevils the Wizards right now is complacency, especially from its two young stars, John Wall and Bradley Beal. Faced with an uninspiring and undermanned Sixers squad, Wall and Beal tore the Philadelphians apart at leisure—Wall with 14 assists and Beal with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting. However, there was also a high degree of sloppiness to their play as well with the two stars combining for nine of the team’s 23 turnovers. Most of these turnovers came from lazily thrown passes or trying to hit the home-run on a highlight alley-oop. While it is understandable that both players would take their foot off the gas when up by more than 20, it is also proof that the schedule-makers of the NBA were doing the Wizards no favors in bestowing them a creampuff preseason schedule (i.e, playing the Sixers twice, even if they are the closest NBA opponent in proximity). It’s the November losses to teams like the 76ers (or even last season’s back-to-back losses to Minnesota and Philadelphia in late-February) that decide playoff seeding in the spring. The Wizards stars need to be prepared to play each game as if it were against an opponent of an equal skill level.


If there were a yin to Otto Porter’s yang on the Wizards, it would be Kelly Oubre, Jr. While Porter was positioned as a “thinking” player with possibly limited athleticism, Oubre Jr. was billed as all athleticism with a basketball IQ that needed to be ratcheted up several notches in order to see any playing time. Both were projects in their own right, but Porter was always going to be judged by his limitations, while Oubre Jr. will be judged on his ability to harness his prodigious talent and 7-foot-2 wingspan. When Oubre Jr. was drafted, the past Wizards comp that was dragged out most often was to Nick Young—another player with boatloads of talent who could never harness it into the team setting.

It was only one preseason game, but it might be time to put the Young comparision to rest and fish around for a better suited former Wizard. During his time in Washington, I don’t recall a single instance where Young went to the line 11 times in one game to hit freebies (instead: those fadeaways). Nor do I have clear memories of Young rebounding in traffic or using his athleticism to force turnovers (Oubre Jr. had three steals on the night). In all, Oubre Jr.’s line of 16 points, three rebounds, three steals (and one assist!) was as un-Nick Young as one could have wanted.

Much of this is a work in progress. Oubre Jr. attempted to jump into passing lanes for steals at inopportune times. He is still trying to gain confidence in his stroke. And he’s processing when to shoot and when to drop the rock off to a teammate, instead of reacting. The key point is that he is thinking and learning on the court. For all of the flags surrounding Oubre Jr., after his drafting, he appears miles ahead of the Blatche/Young/McGee triumvirate in his willingness to learn.

Three Things We Saw.

  1. Randy Wittman warned reporters to not read anything into his substitution patterns in preseason, but even with that caveat, it was bizarre to see DeJuan Blair enter as the first sub off the bench after Marcin Gortat picked up his second foul. For his part, Blair played with fair degree of fire and hustle, banging his way to 15 points. Cynical observers point to the fact that the Wizards might be trying to profile him in hopes of a suitor, but his Etan Thomas-lite impression could prove useful to a Wizards team that appears to be lacking beef up front.
  2. Speaking of Marcin Gortat, if he got to play the Sixers with John Wall as his point guard every night, he would be a first ballot HOFer. Most of Gortat’s 16 points came from gentle pick-and-rolls as the Wizards exploited the marshmallowy goo of the 76ers interior. Less impressive was Gortat’s work on the defensive end, as he was confounded at several moments by Nerlens Noel’s footwork and looked a step out of place defensively in the pivot.
  3. Past the starters, the Wizards bench looks a shade shallow at the moment, especially with Alan Anderson on the shelf for a better part of three months. Both Ramon Sessions and Gary Neal committed themselves within their abilities, but it will be Jared Dudley who is going to determine how far the second unit equips itself during the regular season The most burning question being: Who else gon’ shoot?

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Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and SI.com. He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.