A frequent criticism of Otto Porter in his first three years in the NBA is that he disappears for long stretches of games and it's easy to forget that the starting small forward -- and No. 3 pick -- is even on the floor.
He reminded everyone exactly what his ceiling can be Wednesday, even in a 113-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors when he produced 23 points on 11-for-13 shooting and a game-high 13 rebounds. And it's why the Wizards hope to re-sign him.
In the past, Porter has stood at the arc for three-pointers. Last night was an example of what he's best at -- moving off the ball, offensive rebounding and mid-range. Only one of his shots was a three-point attempt. He has taken half as many attempts from long range (six) through three games compared to a season ago when he was first named a starter for the Wizards.
"Most of the time I was running the pick-and-roll, had the ball in my hands, there were a lot of guys looking at me. He was cutting," said Wizards point guard John Wall, who had a game-high 11 assists that included a few gorgeous no-looks to Porter. "He was just being aggressive, going to the offensive boards. That's something he enjoys doing but sometimes he's not allowed to because if me and Brad (Beal) take the shot he has to be one of the guys getting back (on defense). He was able to crash the boards, cut to the basket, he does a great job of finishing."
Porter was matched up with DeMar DeRozan, who went for 40 points, so was mostly responsible for the Toronto guard's 40-point game? Fact or fiction? Watch the video above.
2:28-2:15: Porter identifies DeRozan well above the arc and makes a perfectly timed spin move off Pascal Siakam’s screen to recover in this horns action. He’s matched up with DeRozan 1 v. 1 in the mid-post. First, he denies the passing angle from DeMarre Carroll and doesn’t concede real estate. He makes the entry tough. Porter doesn’t reach. He bends at his knees with a good defensive posture, takes the contact as DeRozan goes up and makes himself big. DeRozan can’t finish over his 6-8 frame.
1:35-1:22: The denial by Porter on DeRozan is top notch. He fights off a pair of cross screens from Jonas Valanciunas and Siakam in this horns set. Then Porter gets hit with two more screens from Valanciunas and on DeRozan’s drive he’s forced to throw it out (Marcin Gortat helps). It’s a fantastic sequence of how to defend every second of the shot clock.
11:53-11:35: Porter sees the high-post screen coming from Siakam to allow DeRozan to pop out for the ball. He darts under and holds his ground on DeRozan. What helps here is that Markieff Morris shows for a half count longer despite Siakam slipping to the basket knowing that he’s a lesser threat than DeRozan who attempts to get into the lane. Porter wards off the shoulder bump, is careful to reach without fouling or overcommitting to get blown by, stays tall when DeRozan goes up and forces the ball away from the basket. DeRozan gets it back but settles for a contested three-pointer by Porter at the end of the shot clock that front rims.
9:55-9:44: DeRozan buries this difficult floater but observe Porter’s defense. It doesn’t get much better. DeRozan takes the dribble handoff from Carroll, Porter gets around the screen set by Valanciunas who then rescreens and Porter does a spin move to stay in front of DeRozan. Then he gets screened again by Valanciunas and guides DeRozan the direction he should on side pick-and-rolls – to the baseline – into the help. Gortat is there but sticks to Valanciunas on the roll. Porter contests.
9:35-9:25: This is how Porter better complements the backcourt. Beal is being defending by two people, Carroll and Valanciunas, on this pick-and-roll. Porter lifts from the corner and Gortat smartly sets an inside ball screen to get him going to the basket for the floater.
9:13-9 00: Siakam sets the pin down on Porter to free DeRozan to pop.. Porter also has to get past Valanciunas who stacks the screen. Then it’s an immediate pick-and-roll with DeRozan and Valanciunas, who then drag screens from the other side. Beal and Morris help to force the ball to the corner for a missed jumper by Siakam.
8:05-7:56: Morris goes into the lane on Siakam falling away and misses. Gortat is about to be beaten to the rebound by Valanciunas, but Porter slips inside on the baseline. He causes scramble by forcing the ball loose and it results in a layup for Gortat.
7:23-7:14: Realizing it’s hard to get DeRozan enough space on straight pick-and-rolls with Porter, the Raptors mix it up. He gets the switch he wants by setting a dummy screen for Carroll and going back to Lowry for a dribble handoff. That forces the smaller Wall to switch with Porter. The Raptors have a horns set with Siakam and Valanciunas at each high post. Wall fights through both and still is able to contest but he’s not as long or tall as Porter so DeRozan gets the look he wants. It’s still a long two but by making him the screener they get DeRozan more space.
7:00-6:50: This is where slashing to the basket – taking advantage of the big stepping up in the lane to stop the pull up by the shooter – allows Porter to get another offensive rebound. He was making himself available for the pass in case, but also got inside position on three defenders. Unfortunately for the Wizards, they wasted this effort by throwing the ball away.
6:34-6:25: Does Porter’s hustle on this require much explanation after Beal loses the ball going up? Trailing the play, he gets back on top of it and denies DeRozan a layup.
5:37-5:30: A basic screen-and-roll. Porter takes the bump from Valanciunas and Gortat, who is supposed to step up, never contests. That’s one of DeRozan’s sweet spots. He can’t be allowed to go in a straight line to pull up with a clean look.
3:40-3:23: Porter goes under the screen from Jakob Poeltl as DeRozan makes the catch. He prevents him from going to the middle and turns him to the baseline into Morris’ help for a tough shot that backrims. Notice how Porter absorbs the contact from DeRozan, gives resistance and is conscious to keep his hands out of the cookie jar to avoid a whistle. And he grabs the rebound, looks back and sees DeRozan is on the floor and kicks his sprint into high gear to make himself available for the bounce pass from Wall. Layup.
7:22-7:16: DeRozan is back in the game, but Porter isn’t covering because the Wizards are using a three-guard lineup and he’s the stretch four. See how easily he’s now able to back down the smaller defender (Wall), get into the paint and force the quick foul. Compare this to what it looked with Porter defending him. Two free throws were the result.
6:27-6:20: Now Beal with the DeRozan assignment. He still gets into the mid-post far too easily, but a good contest by Beal forces the clutch and the miss. Where Beal errs is stopping on the play and not keeping a body on DeRozan. He gets his own miss, gets fouled and back to the line for two more free throws. Good defense quickly turned into bad defense.
4:08-3:59: Porter is back at the three spot and draws DeRozan. Compare the shot he gets here to his looks vs. guards. He gets to the right side of the floor where he prefers to pull up, but his momentum is taking him on an angle from the rim and he has to take Porter’s contest into account. The result is a jumper that hits the right side of the rim.
3:50-3:37: Porter started and finished this entire sequence. He deflects the throwahead from Norman Powell to Patrick Patterson, allowing Morris to get the steal. Morris throwahead to Wall was off-target and heading out of bounds. All Wall could do was throw it back in play. Who came up with the loose ball? Porter. He beat Patterson to it.
In conclusion, it's clear when and where DeRozan did his best work. DeRozan went to the free-throw line seven times in the first quarter alone (six because of fouls), but Porter wasn't responsible for a single one of those attempts (nor were any of them the result Porter being beaten and requiring help).
DeRozan didn't have a foul shot attempt in the second quarter. He only had one in the third and Porter didn't send him to the line for that one. DeRozan made eight trips in the fourth quarter with Porter taking credit for two of those attempts because of a foul. That's 16 attempts for DeRozan. Two freebies and elite-level defense.
So fact or fiction? Clearly, this contention is pure fiction. The stat sheet is not indicative of what Porter did in the matchup. If anything, it shows what happens when Porter leaves the floor for the Wizards or shifts to another position.