Did the Wizards Make the Right Choice in Otto Porter?


With the third overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, the Washington Wizards selected Georgetown University forward Otto Porter—a pick that came as no surprise to the Wizards’ fan base, as Porter was penned in as Washington’s choice in many mock drafts.

The 6-foot, 8-inch, 220-pound wingman averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game during his sophomore season with Georgetown and was named the 2012-13 Big East Conference Player of the Year. Porter was obviously one of the most skilled and talented players in all of college basketball this past season, which explains why he was taken so early in this year’s draft. But is he the right fit for the Washington? AFRO sports writers Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley debate whether the Wizards’ made the right pick.

Riley:  I personally think the Wizards should have traded the pick for Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, a legitimate 7-footer with tons of upside. I felt so passionately about that idea that I dedicated an entire column to it as soon as they were awarded the No. 3 pick in the NBA lottery weeks ago. But obviously the Kings weren’t interested, so Washington took the best of what was available and that was Porter. I’m a huge fan of UNLV forward Anthony Bennett, and expected Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld to take him over Porter. Unfortunately, the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked everyone watching the draft by passing up Kentucky forward Nerlens Noel and selecting Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick instead. No one saw that coming, and their move made Ernie’s decision to take Porter a lot easier. However, some reports claim that Grunfeld was already leaning towards picking Porter over Bennett anyway.

Green:  If I were Grunfeld, I would have taken Porter over Bennett as well. Bennett has great upside, but he’s currently injured and about 20 pounds overweight. Being out of shape will only mean more injuries in the future, and who wants to deal with that? Still, I don’t think Porter is the right fit for Washington with the current state of the team.

Porter is a solid talent. He’s plays smart basketball and hustles on every play at full speed with tons of energy. He’s a great rebounder and tenacious defender, very athletic up and down the court, and can shoot well from the perimeter on catch-and-shoot opportunities. Porter’s weaknesses, however, are his shaky ball-handling skills and his lack of ability to consistently create his own shot. For that reason, I don’t think he’ll ever develop into the perennial all-star player the Wizards need to take their franchise to the next level.

Riley:  I don’t know, Perry. The more footage I see of Porter, the more I see an excellent passer with an all-around game. He plays good basketball on both sides of the court. Sure, the Wizards could have gone in different directions with the pick, but they certainly didn’t go wrong with Porter. The kid led Georgetown with 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists a game; if he can do that in a Wizards uniform, and add that production to star point guard John Wall’s production, you might have yourself a winning combination. Not to mention the Wizards’ 2012 draft pick Brad Beal, a sharpshooting guard who came on strong during his rookie season before being injured. I remember you thought Beal was the wrong pick for Washington last season, and the only person who turned out to be wrong was you. Beal was one of the best performing rookies in the NBA last year, and I have a great feeling Porter’s rookie season will be even better.

Green:  I wasn’t wrong about Beal, and my problem with Porter is actually the exact same beef I had when the Wizards selected Beal with the No. 3 pick in last year’s draft. Both players will have very solid careers, I never suggested otherwise. But that’s the point. They’re solid players, not spectacular talents. They would fit in perfectly as role players for a championship-contending team. But they simply lack what it takes to lead a losing team like Washington back to winning form. Only star power can do that.

I agreed with your column that the Wizards should have traded the pick for a proven star or young player with star potential. And although they couldn’t find a trade partner before the draft, they could have still made a trade happen after the draft if they would have used the No. 3 pick to select an attractive player worth trading for.

One of the most attractive players in the draft was Michigan point guard Trey Burke, the 2013 National Player of the Year. Burke was still available when the Wizards picked at No. 3; Washington passed on Burke because they already have a starting point guard in Wall, but Burke would have made ideal trade bait. The Minnesota Timberwolves did just that when they drafted Burke and traded him to the Utah Jazz for multiple picks. It’s a shame Washington didn’t take advantage of that opportunity.

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Did the Wizards Make the Right Choice in Otto Porter?

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