WASHINGTON — If the NBA Draft were dating, Otto Porter Jr. is the one all fathers would approve of. Dad never objects to the guy labeled “safe.” On Thursday, we’ll found out which team covets reliable over risk.
The Georgetown forward can do just about everything on the basketball court. Based on league chatter, that versatility apparently excites no one. That’s not to say the unanimous Big East Player of the Year lacks desirability among pundits and teams picking in slots one through six. It’s just not apparently in a lusty sort of way.
“Porter appears to be one of the more safe picks in this year’s draft.”
“Otto Porter may be the surest thing in the draft”
NBA scout on Porter:
“I think he’s the safest pick in the draft.”
The 6-foot-8 sophomore’s instinct-rich game with a significant defensive component and nary a trace of jock ego warms the heart, especially by those that catch his act repeatedly.
There just isn’t a high-rising component, though Porter’s 36-inch vertical more than gets the job done.
There just isn’t a textbook shooting stroke, though he improved his 3-point accuracy from 23 percent as a freshman to 42 last season.
There just isn’t any aspect of Porter’s game that is dynamic, at least not in a posterizing sort of way. However, there are no glaring weaknesses, no sense of wasted potential. That’s why his college coach uttered a one-word answer when queried about what kind of questions NBA teams are asking about his guy.
“None,” said a matter-of-fact John Thompson III after a brief pause to realize that oddity of what he was to say considering the million dollar stakes.
Thompson continued: “I’m biased, but I also think I’m right. I think he’s the most complete player in the draft at both ends of the court, the most ready player in the draft. I think people have seen that, he’s displayed that over the last couple of years.”
Indeed, teams know what they get if they draft Porter, as opposed to 7-foot-1 Alex Len, who both wowed and waned last season at Maryland. As opposed to UNLV forward Anthony Bennett, who offers an abundance of offensive weaponry, but often showed little interest in stopping opponents from using theirs. As opposed to Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, who is a shot-blocking savant but a point-producing novice with already two major knee injuries in his young career.
That’s why with Porter, who led the Hoyas in scoring (16.2), rebounds (7.5), steals (1.8) and 3-point shooting, everyone loves same variation of that “s” word.
ESPN’s Chad Ford on the Wizards’ possible debate at No. 3:
“Do they go with more of a sure thing (Porter) or gamble on the guy with more upside in (UNLV’s Anthony) Bennett?”
Thompson believes a certain “c” word is what makes Porter a potential gem.
“A word that is perhaps used too often, but applies — he’s coachable,” Thompson said. “I’ve told several teams, just figure out what you want him to do if you take him and tell him. Tell him what you want him to be able to do and he’ll be able to do it.”
Geez, where’s the fun, the drama with that?
Perhaps Porter’s closest draft doppelganger is the four inches shorter Victor Oladipo. Like the Indiana guard, Porter entered college under the national radar, is a defensive-minded player who made dramatic offensive strides this past season from long range. Of course, everyone fawns for Oladipo and his 42-inch vertical to the point where even his missed dunks are legendary.
Based purely on positional need, Porter is an obvious fit for the No.1 picking and small forward lacking Cleveland Cavaliers. Some reports have suggested Porter is atop Cleveland’s draft board. According to one source, the Cavs “want to take Porter,” but wanting and doing are not the same. Nary a highly cited mock draft has this scenario unfolding.
Most often projected to the Wizards, Porter recently worked out for the NBA team that plays in the same Verizon Center where Georgetown’s low-key leader starred last season. Washington could use a player capable of defending multiple positions who always seems one step ahead of the play as a passer and when it comes to anticipating tosses from others.
It’s just that on the surface that type of player doesn’t make for part of a desired “Big 3.” The Wizards may have an opportunity to snag a coveted building block center (Len, Noel) or add a potentially dynamic scorer (Bennett) for an offense that tied for last in that category.
“His ceiling may not be as high as UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, but Porter projects as a much safer pick.”
Oh, if you’re wondering why there are no quotes in here from Otto Porter Jr. himself, let’s just say talking about his own game is not one of the unassuming Missourian’s strengths. Then again, in this kingly era, a player not into self-promotion sounds very appealing. So does his parental-approved game.