While most other teams left the world stunned and confused on draft night with surprise selections, pick swaps and blockbuster trades, the Washington Wizards remained quietly idle in the middle of it all and eventually picked the player they had coveted for weeks. It couldn’t have been a wiser pick, either.
The Wizards were certainly involved in some trade talks here and there prior to the draft as well, but had they gone with any of those other options, specifically one that involved trading the 3rd pick, it would have just been a setup for Ernie’s head. For that reason, it simply could not have gone any other way than it did last night. Keep the pick and choose the player you feel not only has the established talent, but the highest upside and a lofty ceiling, merely the definition of a “safe pick.”
I had a chance to speak to Jalen Rose last night during a commercial break and asked him who he thought was the best pick for the ‘Zards. He quickly responded “it’s gotta be Otto,” going on to tell me that he feels Otto Porter may be the “safest pick ever,” and mentioning the same things we’ve praised about Otto’s game since the day he declared for the draft.
And all is true. Otto’s game best fits what the Wizards want for their immediate future. A player that can jump in the rotation and play a significant role in any collection of minutes, while serving as another weapon for John Wall in the open floor — which I cannot wait to see. Even Otto is praiseful of his own talents. He’s aware of what he brings to the table and he prides himself for it. Not in a cocky manner, but with a genuine appeal for the game and a very team-first attitude. The character of a locker room can set the tone for a team’s success (something us Wizards fans have learned the hard way), and Porter certainly meets that standard.
As I refocus a bit on Otto’s “safe” presence on the floor, it’s clear to see why he’s often touted as such. Porter’s height and length are textbook for a versatile wingman and allow him to contribute in several areas of the game, offensively and defensively. His 6’9, 200 pound frame has the speed and agility to stretch the floor and drive to the rim. His lengthy arms make him a threat on the glass and in contesting shots. He can swat the ball from you at the rim, or play good on-ball defense around the perimeter. In Porter’s introductory presser Friday afternoon, Coach Randy Wittman was vocal about his multi-dimensional game.
“He doesn’t do just one thing. He’s a rebounder, he’s a shot blocker, he’s a scorer. He’s a basketball player. We need basketball players.”
Dat man Witt ain’t neva lied. Okay, sometimes he has. The truth is that Porter’s tuned style of play will increase the efficiency of the game for the Wizards, which in turn translates into fewer turnovers and better finishes.
On the flipside, a good portion of Wiz Nation isn’t too thrilled with the decision to pass Nerlens Noel, and I get that. The current establishment for the Wizards down low is far from long term. While Emeka Okafor is the fixture of the Wizards’ interior defense, he’s entering the final year of a contract that’s worth 14 and a half million, with absolutely no telling as to what his future holds in DC. Nene’s health has remained questionable since the day he arrived to the Wizards and I don’t have much faith that his health will ever hold some sort of consistency. He’s turning 31 and entering his 12th season in the league. Shit won’t get any simpler for Nene from here. So I get it. Despite Noel’s ACL rehab that’s projected to keep him off the floor until December, he potentially would have provided the Wizards with a long term solution down low, while a backcourt of Wall and Beal would continue to grow as well.
But the Wizards brass and the fans who declared themselves #TeamOtto weren’t settled with the idea of not just enduring the development of a rookie, but also the need to handle a player’s preliminary rehab due to a serious injury. DC isn’t playing that game. Not now.
Welcome back to DC, Otto. Please move your belongings down to the big boys room. It’s just down the hallway and to the left.