The Washington Wizards have been playing very well since the turn of the year, and swingman Otto Porter Jr. is a big reason for their hot streak.
Everyone has been talking about the recent play of John Wall, who has really taken his game to another level this season. That makes obvious sense, as he is averaging career-highs in points (22.8 per game), assists (10.6), effective field goal percentage (48.2 percent) and free throw percentage (81.2 percent). The Wizards point guard is having the best offensive rating of his career (110 points per 100 possessions) in his seventh season as well. A prime benefactor of Wall’s offensive uptick has been the fourth-year man in Porter.
The 6-8 small forward has established himself as a well-rounded offensive player this year. Like Wall, he is averaging career-highs in points (14.6), effective field goal percentage (63.6 percent) and free throw percentage (79.5 percent). What has been the most impressive part of Porter’s explosion is the way he is shooting the ball from the three-point line. He is knocking down 46.5 percent of his three-point attempts, which puts him at second in the NBA, according to teamrankings.com. He was a thorn in the Cleveland Cavaliers side all night when they matched up earlier this month in what was probably the best game of the season thus after dropping 25 points and five threes in the 140-135 overtime loss.
The sharpshooting of Porter has been essential to the Wizards being able to be much more versatile in their offensive sets. With Wall and All-Star snub Bradley Beal often breaking down defenses in both the half court and in transition, Porter has been knocking down shots at a scorching rate. In today’s league, the three-man has to be a threat outside to open driving lanes for your guards and bigs. Porter’s knockdown three-point shooting is a huge reason why the Wiz are 9-1 in their last 10 contests, which is good for third in the suddenly interesting Eastern Conference standings.
He’s always been a very good mid-range shooter, as he is 47.4 percent for his career from shots 10-16 feet from the basket. However, that three-point stroke has made him so much more of a focal point in the Wizards offense, and head coach Scott Brooks has taken advantage of it. Porter’s offensive rating of 130 is far and away the best of his time in the league, and it’s added another dimension to the Wizards perimeter attack. The latest example of this smooth Porter stroke was on full display a few days ago in their 111-98 victory over the Indiana Pacers, in which he had six triples and a plus/minus of 20.
He’s also playing solid defensively, with a career-high in steals per night (with 1.5), and a 1.2 defensive box plus/minus (also the best of his young career). If the lanky small forward can keep playing at this level alongside the other young guns, the Wiz could be a factor in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Will they be able to challenge the gritty Boston Celtics and the defending champion Cavs? No idea, but this guy is showing that he was worth a high draft pick. He’s emerged as their X-factor going forward.
Follow me on Twitter: @ArmchairQBDan