“He’s in constant motion away from the ball, roaming the baseline, cutting backdoor or settling into soft spots. Utilizes that same motor to get out in the open court and runs exceedingly well end to end; averages 1.45 PPP in transition. Plays to his strengths and works hard to ameliorate areas of weakness. He upped his scoring output from 9.7 as a freshman to 16.2 as a sophomore (48% FG). The key ingredient to his offensive explosion was improved long-range proficiency, from 23% to 42% (12 makes to 43). 51% adjusted FG% in spot up opportunities. Highly efficient in the mid-range from either elbow — catch and shoot coming off screens (or working the middle of 2-3) and dribbling into jumpers with one or two habit bounces.”
“Not a particularly quick or explosive athlete, and also lacking significant strength, Porter struggles to blow by opponents in half-court situations purely using his first step. He’s not an exceptionally creative ball-handler, showing just average ability to change speeds and directions with the ball, and not getting very low to the ground with his dribble which makes it difficult for him to get all the way to the rim against a set defense. His lack of bulk and average leaping ability hampers him as a finisher around the basket in traffic, especially over length. His increased usage this season also coincided in a significant dip in his efficiency as a scorer inside the arc, as his 2-point percentage dropped from an excellent 61% as a freshman to a rather pedestrian 50% as a sophomore. Porter finds other ways to impact the game, though, as he’s one of the smartest and most polished prospects in this draft class, which is impressive considering he’s still only 19 years old”
“Porter made a very impressive jump from his freshman to sophomore seasons, showing no difficulty in becoming the leader of the team and winning Big East Player of the Year. Otto is about as low risk as it gets in this draft, however his ceiling isn’t as great as some of the other top prospects. He’s a relentless defender and a pro athlete, but it’s unlikely that he will ever be an elite level scorer. He’s very thin, but weight/strength shouldn’t be an issue at the 3 position. He showed the ability to knock down key shots throughout his short college career. Despite a less than picture perfect jump shot, he gets results.”
“It’s hard to peg any one thing that Porter does spectacularly, but he always seems to be at the right place at the right time. His motor, his work ethic and a game with few holes all bode well for him. He’s placed Georgetown on his back and shown improved range and efficiency. He can be a defensive nightmare, too.”
Stats (as a sophomore this season):
16.2 PTS, 7.5 RBS, 2.7 AST, 1.8 STL, 0.9 BLK, 1.5 TO, 48% FG, 42% 3PT, 78% FT
YouTube – DraftExpress
Now, as for film, I had most of Georgetown’s overtime loss to Syracuse in the Big East semifinal and their tournament loss to cinderella Florida Gulf Coast to work from. I’m going to start with the offensive side of the ball and Porter’s scoring ability. Here, we see Porter get into the middle of that Syracuse 2-3 zone at the foul line. In truth, Porter operated out of this area for most of the game, flashing to whatever side the ball was on and looking for an opening. Below, you’ll see that his teammate is wide open underneath the hoop.
Before he even lands in a triple threat stance, Porter recognizes it and feeds it down low to Moses Ayegba.
Ayegba looks to turn and shoot, but he decides against it. Notice, however, that Porter hasn’t stopped moving as he drifts to the right wing.
Ayegba kicks it out and finds Porter. The Syracuse is caught off guard, and Porter’s man is late in keeping tabs on him.
Otto rises and fires nailing the mid-range jumper. At 6′ 8 1/2″ with a 7’1″ wingspan, Otto doesn’t have too many people able to alter his sight line toward the hoop. He gets off his feet quickly and confidently drills the jumper.
We transition to the Florida Gulf Coast matchup in the tournament. This was a tough game for Porter, as he shot just 5-of-17 for his 13 points, but he grabbed 11 rebounds and played some really active defense. Jabil Trawick has the ball at the foul line, but watch Porter move without the ball to get a shot. He starts on the left wing.
Trawick does the pass and body shield screen move. Porter cuts in right behind him.
The separation is created, and Porter looks to score here. You’ll see though that he’s always looking to pass to an open teammate as well. While his assist numbers aren’t startling, I saw plenty of “hockey assists” and passes that kept the offense moving efficiently.
Porter elevates and shoots a bit of a fadeaway here, but knocks down the 14-footer. Porter shot from all over the floor, so the fact that he sported a 48% field goal percentage is a very, very impressive stat.
Now, we’ll see Porter take a post feed just extended off the right block.
What I like is that Porter almost always take a split second and assesses the positioning of his teammates before shooting, starting a drive, or whatever.
Here, he pivots to square up his man. He catches his man off guard a bit by using a quick release and the fadeaway once again to release the mid-range J. Nothing but net. The Cavaliers desperately need someone to fill in the mid-range cracks in their offensive game, and I think Porter would fit in seamlessly.
The greatest development in Porter’s game from year one to two at Georgetown was his three-point shot. In his freshman campaign, he made just 12-of-53 (23%). This past season, Porter hit 43 triples and shot it at a 42% clip. His movement without the ball gets him good lucks consistently. Below, the ball starts with Porter on the left wing. The big man is going to pop out and take a pass from Porter.
Again, so often it’s not the elaborate plays but quick, well-practiced moves that can get you open and in the scoring column. The pass-and-seal gets Porter a wide open look on the wing.
Porter’s three-point stroke isn’t as pretty mechanically as, say, Ben McLemore’s, but it’s not ugly by any stretch.
In another set, Porter’s out at the top of the key. FGCU is sagging on him for some reason and allows him to take one step unimpeded right up to the arc and fire it.
As mentioned before, Porter rebounds well from the small forward position. What he does with the rebounds is one of the more intriguing aspects of the game. I saw about 5 or 6 instances in these two games where Porter started a fastbreak with a long pass upcourt that led to either a layup or a foul drawn. Here, Porter grabs the defensive board in some traffic.
It’s one dribble and immediately a look up court. Without hesitation, Otto lets the 55-foot pass fly upcourt.
Nate Lubick, not a very offensively minded player, catches it at the foul line and gets fouled in transition.
Again, we’ll see Porter start the break from his own rebound. This was a really nice grab off the glass with the FGCU defender all over him. Porter ranked just outside the top 250 in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage with a 19.0% rate.
This time, it’s a few dribbles before launching a pass at the opposite foul line again.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera catches this on the right side and drives it to the hoop before being stopped.
Porter runs the floor pretty well and follows his pass.
He comes streaking right down the middle of the floor with no one paying much attention. Porter fakes up and then pulls it back before using his right hand on the left side of the basket. That’s usually not a good thing, and he misses the shot because of it. I did see Otto miss a surprising amount of shots in the lane. Again, I’m studying two pretty subpar performances from him given his body of work during the season, so perhaps some of it can be attributed to that. Because *if* this was a pattern all season, he could’ve shot over 50% had he cleaned up these touch layups inside.
Here’s a quick look at Otto on the break using the dribble rather than the pass ahead. He’s on the right wing here with his teammate Smith-Rivera on the opposite of the floor with good spacing. A 2-on-1 break is the result.
Porter makes sure to draw the defender enough. Often times, college players will make the mistake of not passing the ball until they make contact with the defender, drawing the charge. Or, they’ll try to take it themselves when the defender has committed. Or, they’ll give it up when they still had a clear path to the layup. But, I digress, because Porter makes the right call here.
With a mess of players quickly closing in, Porter dumps it off for the uncontested layup and the assist. This guy may not be as eye-popping as McLemore or Muhammad on offense, but he makes all the right plays. His offensive rating (118.8) and turnover rate (11.7%) were both in the top 100 nationally. He draws five fouls per 40 minutes while committing just over two per 40.
We’ll shift to the defensive end of the floor now, a place that I didn’t realize that Otto Porter had so much potential. Victor Oladipo and Nerlens Noel are being heralded as the kingpins of the defensive end for this draft, and rightfully so. Still, I see tons of potential on this end for Porter. On this play, Florida Gulf Coast is inbounding underneath their hoop.
Otto is in great position here, preventing a lob as he’s protecting the rim in this bunched up set for FGCU.
They throw the lob anyway, and you’ll see that Porter instantly recognizes it and leaps to meet the ball, rather than the man.
Porter reaches it at the exact same time as the FGCU player and knocks it away with the Hoyas gaining possession.
This shows a flash of how much of a fantastic helpside defender Porter could be in Mike Brown’s defense. He starts out covering #20 in blue on the left wing. His length allows him to sag into the paint and still have time to recover out to his man.
With a high pick and roll happening, Porter sniffs it out and remains to help. The roll man goes straight down the lane, but Porter sneaks in with his right hand and knocks away the pass.
Otto immediately gets on the floor and the Hoyas eventually win out in the scramble for possession.
I wanted to give him a round of applause on this following play. Once again, Porter starts on the left wing (this time, Georgetown is definitely in a zone, 2-3 from the looks of it).
Ayegba gets absolutely toasted trying to get out and cover the three-point shot in the corner. The drive to the hoop is wide open with the FGCU big underneath sealing his guy out of making a play on the ball. Porter immediately leaves his post and goes to make a play on the ball.
Porter takes a great angle here to keep his body away from the man.
As he goes up, Porter uses his long right arm to reject the shot just before it reaches the glass. He keeps it inbounds, and Georgetown gets this possession as well. If there is a weakness in Otto’s defensive game, I’ll say it is on-ball defense on penetration. He seems to rely a little too much on his backline defense. I saw a couple of plays where he influenced to the middle, almost expecting someone to be there, instead giving up the layup. He’s an elite helpside defender right now, but I’d say his on-ball D is probably just average right now.
Otto Porter is probably not the most offensively or defensively explosive player in this draft class. He’s not the most athletic. He’s not the best pure shooter. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling. What he is, however, is a mix of proven offensive and defensive success that should translate very well to the next level. People often lead with an argument centered around the Cavaliers needing a small forward and Porter being one as their rationale for choosing him. For me, it’s not that.
Michael Lee in the Washington Post made a great point about the Cavs wanting to follow the Spurs model to a certain extent in team building going for fit and character. This high in the draft, you have to take the most talented player. But, he has to be the most talented player FOR YOU and how you are going to plan on building your team going forward. Is Tristan Thompson a piece you want to be a part of this going forward? Will Mike Brown want to keep Anderson Varejao? Will Andy get healthy enough to stay on the floor consistently in his early 30s? Depending on how you answer those questions, it becomes more difficult to take Noel. In truth, heading into the draft lottery, I was at peace with not getting Noel, assuming he’d go #1 to whoever got the top slot. Really, I was hoping for Porter to fall to wherever the Cavaliers picked. Add that in with the fact that his weight being listed at 225 was a flatout joke (he probably played at more around 195-200 last year), and you suddenly start to realize that he’s likely going to have to make that shot-blocking presence felt from the power forward position, something slightly more difficult to do, given some of the game’s stretch fours that will try to pull Noel away from the hoop. If Noel was a more sure-fire option at center, he’d be the guy, but he’s not. So, he isn’t.
You have two players that LOVE the ball in their hands in Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving. You need diversity. Porter will give it to you with his various ways of getting open, plugging mid-range jumpers, confidently shooting the three-pointer, and making the right passes and decisions while not always needing the ball in his hands. He used just 23.4% of the team’s possession while on the floor at Georgetown. The comparisons to Tayshaun Prince aren’t far off, but I think Porter will end up being a better scorer than Prince was even in his prime.
There’s a chance that taking the slow play with Noel and allowing him to develop will be the right call. There’s also a chance his impact is minimized by playing power forward instead, his offensive game doesn’t develop, or his injury issues (already 2 torn ACLs) manifest themselves again. I think there is a much greater chance, however, that Porter ends up as the more well-rounded and talented NBA player, being the better fit for the Cavs next year and the next several years after that. Kyrie, Dion, and Otto around the perimeter? That’s a ton of shooting, scoring, and passing ability right there.
I won’t be disappointed if the Cavs take Noel at 1, but I’m changing course from immediately after the lotto when I said I’d be willing to take the chance on Noel. Right now, I want Otto Porter to be a Cleveland Cavalier, but it’s not for the wrong reasons. Chris Grant has shown before that he really doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about in regards to perceived “reaches”. This ultimately may end up being another one of those cases.
Until next time, the film room is closed!
(Photo: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)