As the Wizards go into training camp, they should feel slightly optimistic about where their roster is. John Wall has openly challenged himself to take his game to the next level, hopefully injecting his name into the discussion of elite point guards. One season wouldn’t prove that he is in there, but at least it could be argued in the aftermath of something close to a 20 ppg and 9 apg season. Bradley Beal, withstanding injuries, has been consistently improving and is projected to be one of the best players from his draft class. Out of the remaining positions, small forward is the one that currently has the most competition within the organization. The question is how the rotation should and will turn out. Let’s breakdown the three players in question to see who is the best fit to start and who is the best fit for backing up the starter.
“He’s like white chocolate, only good in small doses”.
First and foremost, under no circumstance should he start. Ariza is not a horrible player by any means, but he is not starter material. After a lackluster rookie season on the Knicks, Ariza spent most of his time for the next few years on the Orlando bench. He was considered a good to great athlete with elite measurables (and still is), but was known to have little to zero shooting touch at the time. Ariza instantly improved after being traded to the Lakers, peaking in the playoffs of his second season in L.A. after his first one was cut short because of a broken foot. After being the best role player in a championship run the following season, his stock was high. The Houston Rockets overpaid him, watched him post gaudy point totals with little to no efficiency, and then traded him to New Orleans. As a starter for the Rockets, his percentages were abysmal. At one point late in the season he was under 40% from the field, under 30% from downtown, and he finished the season under 65% from the charity stripe. His season with New Orleans was almost just as bad. Ariza really hasn’t come close to that level of play he achieved with the Lakers. The more minutes Ariza seems to get, the less efficient he gets. One constant in Ariza’s game (besides his consistently bad shooting), is his defense. Ariza possesses the wingspan and foot speed to stay with almost any wing player in the league. In summary, even though Ariza is arguably good enough to be the sixth man for this team, the re-signing of Martell Webster and drafting of Otto Porter makes it extremely counter-productive.
“He might never be great, but he could be pretty good”.
He rates out at above-average in a variety of fields, not standing out at just one thing. One thing that Porter possesses that can’t be taught is his lanky 6-9 frame and monsterous 7 foot wingspan. He has an Ariza-like frame, but does not have Ariza-like athleticism. There is a lot of room for improvement in Porters offensive game, specifically his shooting mechanics. Defensive rebounding is a strength, but it is yet to be seen how his body will handle the much more gifted athletes of the NBA. Otto Porter will only be as good as how hard Otto Porter works. Putting on some bulk in the weight room and spending extra hours getting shots up could make Porter a very valuable player a few years down the road. Considering that Porter was a very high pick in the draft, it could be argued that he should start to get as many minutes as he can. However, there is another guy on the team who just signed a relatively lucrative contract to play the position that Otto has to grow into.