There wasn’t any drama involved with Otto Porter Jr’s press conference yesterday to officially announce him signing his extension to remain in Washington. The former Georgetown Hoya is now the highest paid (4-year, $106 million) player on the Wizards, that should change once John Wall makes his decision to resign with Washington. That being said, like his smooth game and his ability to fit in with Washington’s high powered backcourt without making much noise, Porter was quiet and resolute during the press conference.
“I think he’ll improve his game, but we don’t want Otto to have more on his shoulders, nor any of our players, that they’re a max player. We want a max team and it would be bad for us if the optics were ‘you have to earn your contract.” – Ted Leonsis
What was very apparent was that Porter is both worthy of this deal and the market is what set it. While many have wondered just how good he might be or if he was worth matching, it’s clear that the Wizards brass was on one page. Sitting at the podium with Otto were Ernie Grunfeld, Ted Leonsis, and Scott Brooks. Every single one of them made it very clear that what Porter brings to the table can’t be simply quantified by statistics.
“I never look at Otto and judge him by the stat sheet. There’s so many little things that stats don’t show. He dives on the floor for a loose ball, he sets screens, he makes the extra pass to the corner, offensive rebounds.” – Scott Brooks
There’s going to be more scrutiny surrounding Porter in the coming years after signing this deal, but it’s clear that inside the Wizards they want him to improve and continue being himself. His versatility is really what he’s being paid for, for the ability to move up and down the roster from a position stand point and the ability to guard several positions. While he won’t be asked to shoulder the type of scoring load Wall and Bradley Beal do, he will be expected to continuing knocking down open shots. Making timely cuts and moving the ball as needed as another playmaker on the floor. There is definitely still room for Porter’s game to grow, but it’s about how it complements those two in the backcourt.
When those two are struggling or especially when they’re off the court, that’s when Otto may be asked to be a bit more assertive and commanding. He has the ability to play small-ball four (power forward) and can thrive in that role, looking at the best teams in the league, those types of players are needed in the hopes of knocking them off.
Being that third member of a trio or being labeled as a “third wheel” has many negative connotations, but that shouldn’t be the case. Chris Bosh was seen by many as “just” a third wheel of Miami’s “Big 3” and he played a pivotal role. Had he not been ready to contribute, they wouldn’t of won two championships. Ray Allen has taken a lot of flack by Boston fans and some former teammates, but his role was vital in their Championship run. Prior to Kevin Durant joining the Warriors, Draymond Green was their third wheel and now he’s their fourth wheel to some. That doesn’t mean his contributions are any less valuable, he is asked to make an impact on both ends in every game. This is not saying that Otto should be compared to any of these players, simply stating that his role or the perception of him being a third wheel shouldn’t be negative. Washington needed him to step up more in the playoffs last season against Boston, going forward there won’t be any excuses for him if he fails to do so. This contract has more to do with the market than the type of player or tier Porter fits in when looking around the league, still, Washington’s decided they can’t go forward without him. He took a huge jump in Brook’s first year as Head Coach and should be expected to take another this season.
If Porter is the third wheel in Washington’s “Big 3” of him, Wall and Beal, his continued improvement should only make life easier on those two. Having to account for Porter on a nightly basis will help balance the floor and make opposing teams pay should they decide or when they decide to give added attention to John and Brad.
With Porter now locked up the attention turns to Wall’s decision and if they’ll make any additional moves prior to Training Camp. There’s a lot of time between now and then, Washington checked one of their boxes in making sure their core stayed in tact. With how the Wizards see Porter and the role he’s expected to fill, they need that continued improvement not only this season, but for years to come.