The wing position requires the most versatile of players. Wing men are not guards nor are they post players. With the position being so unique, it requires the skills of all others. The 3-man has to be shifty with the ball in his hands, finish at the rim, be a knock-down shooter, play lock-down defense, and rebound the ball. Even though he’s not everyone’s favorite (myself and much of the rest of Wizards Nation included) LeBron James is the poster child for the small forward position. As one of the most athletic competitors to ever graze this earth, James has revolutionized the position. Without LeBron, there would be no “point forward”, which is becoming a big part of today’s game.
The Wizards have two forwards with a lot of potential, but much more to prove. Otto Porter is currently the starter on the depth chart and is in a contract year and with a few remaining improvements he still needs to make. He’s growing into a solid defender (guarding guys like Melo and Bron helps), and grabs about four rebounds a game. However, his offensive production is not on par with other small forwards of the league. Porter averages roughly 12 points per game, and although he is not expected to put up 25 to 30 a night, it would help his own stock if he scored closer to 20 points per game. If he wants to sign that lucrative extension, Porter will have to prove that he is worth the money, which means he will have to prove he can perform at better-than-average level at both ends of the floor. With his long and athletic stature, if he runs the floor with Wall, open looks will not be hard to find.
Backing up Otto will be second year man Kelly Oubre Jr. The 6-foot-7 20-year-old out of Kansas has a lot more to prove than Porter thanks to an underwhelming rookie campaign. However, there were a few shining moments. Oubre didn’t get a lot of burn at the beginning of the season, but that changed around mid-January. As the minutes came rolling his way, Oubre had his biggest game: 25 points and three assists against the San Antonio Spurs, an impressive showing against an elite franchise. While at Kansas, Oubre was known as an athletic 3-point marksman. He’ll need to incorporate more of that in his game to prove he can fully transition to the next level. Now that he has a season of experience to fall back on, Oubre has the chance to flourish.
Who is the better player? As of now there’s no question it’s Otto. He has more game experience, and hasproved his worth as an all-purpose threat. Who has more potential? Now that may be a different story. Kelly Oubre Jr. is more of today’s prototype player. His pure athleticism can provide the excitement of a high flyer, while his shooting stroke allows him to keep pace with the evolution of the NBA. His strength can also develop him into a solid defender.
Nonetheless, it will be an exciting year at the small forward position. Expect an extra effort from both the experienced “veteran” in a contract year Otto Porter, as well as the young gun Kelly Oubre Jr.