Otto Porter Jr. is entering a critical 4th season with the Washington Wizards.
Porter was the 3rd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and just turned 23 years of age, but can he take the big 4th season leap that so many others have? Let us take a deep dive into Porter to examine further.
Porter has improved his stat line each of his first three seasons in the league.
He earned the starting Small Forward position last season and played 30.3 minutes per game. That produced a stat line of 47.3% from the field, 75.4% from the line, 1.3 3 pointers on 36.7%, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 11.6 points per game. Clearly, Porter is already a serviceable starter.
Porter took a step forward in year 3 for all his advanced metrics.
He never posted a positive offensive box score plus/minus until last season's 0.8. He also produced a positive 1.0 defensive box score plus/minus, a 2.2 value over replacement player (VORP). In the win shares categories, he earned 3.0 on offense, 2.7 on defense, and .119 win shares per 48 (.100 is league average). All stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.
The advanced metrics view Porter as a well-above average player in the league already.
Is There Room for Growth?
Porter is already an above average NBA player, so where can he improve?
First, I believe he is in line for two more minutes a game this season. He will be backed up by Kelly Oubre, another first round pick of the Wizards, but those two can play minutes on the floor together. I see Porter slotting in at 32 minutes, which will boost his counting numbers.
Let’s take a look at Porter’s shot chart from last season to see if he needs to improve on any area on the floor.
As you can see, Porter shot above league average on every spot on the floor except both corner 3 point shots. The volume of shots is low so that it could be a sample size issue, but I suspect Porter could improve those spots to around 38% this season. That will boost his points, 3’s, and FG% but only a slight amount.
Porter can also improve his steals and block this season. Porter is an excellent defender with good length. He has improved his steals rate every season of his career, and I believe he will push that up to 1.9 or 2 steals per game this season. If he can just recover his block rate from 2014-2015, that number will also improve to 0.6 or 0.7 per game.
Porter has missed 15 games in the last two NBA seasons. He has not had any troublesome injuries going forward to date, but something worth monitoring would be his right hip. According to Fox Sports, he had a sore hip in 2013 and then last season he missed time with a sore right hip, and shortly after that with right hip tightness.
This could be nothing, but it is worth monitoring because it could be the first signs of some larger injury.
Effect of a New Coach
At the end of last season, the Wizards dismissed Randy Whitman and hired Scott Brooks to be their coach. Brooks has some head coaching experience with the Thunder, so let’s look back some improvements Brooks made during his time with Oklahoma City.
Brooks took over the helm of the Thunder part way through the 2008-2009 NBA season. Kevin Durant was in his 2nd season, and Russell Westbrook was just a rookie. The following season, in his first full season as head coach, Brooks’ team improved its FG%, FT%, rebounds, steals, blocks, and points. Brooks coached the team for seven seasons to a record of 338 wins and 207 losses.
In his time, he gained a reputation for nurturing and developing talent. Look at some of the players he improved during that period. Kevin Durant made his first All-Star team in Brooks’ first season as coach. He won the MVP in 2014 under Brooks. Russell Westbrook, who coming out of the draft had doubts about whether he could play Point Guard, grew into a perennial All-Star, and one of the league’s best Point Guards under Brooks.
James Harden played his first 3 NBA season under Brooks and then became an All-Star the moment he got the starring role with the Rockets. Brooks took his game to a new level in his final season with the Thunder and continued it with the Rockets, but Brooks played a key role in Harden’s development.
Brooks also helped nurture Segre Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, and Steven Adams into the NBA players they are today.
Can Porter be the next in the line of talented players that Scott Brooks helps reach the next level?
Is Otto Porter in line for a breakout next season?
The answer is clearly yes.
He may not become an All-Star this season or a “Superstar” with John Wall and Bradley Beal patrolling the Wizards backcourt, but I believe he will receive more minutes, improve slightly on efficiency, and be taken under the wing of a talented coach who will get the best out of him.
Need more convincing? The Washington Post reported that Coach Brooks was “very very high on Otto Porter”. The quote alone if true, should bode well for Porter’s minutes and the ability for Porter to continue to grow as a player.
So how big of a breakout are we talking here? I expect Porter’s final numbers to resemble; 32 minutes, 48% from the field, 77% from the line, 1.5 3 pointers on 38%, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 14 points per game.
That may not be the line of an NBA superstar, but it will give the Wizard’s a well-above average Small Forward and will be one of the steps in returning the Wizards to the playoffs in 2017.