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Film study: Wizards find legitimate stretch 4 option in Otto Porter ... fact or fiction?

Film study: Wizards find legitimate stretch 4 option in Otto Porter ... fact or fiction?

The inconsistent play of the Wizards' bench has forced Scott Brooks to roll out three-guard lineups, and a beneficiary of that move appears to be fourth-year forward Otto Porter.

Porter's set a new career-high Wednesday with 34 points and tied career-highs with 14 rebounds and three blocked shots in a 118-93 destruction of the Boston Celtics. And he did all of that without committing a turnover.

Porter has been the Wizards' best two-way player this season, but was this a fluke or is he a legtimate option for them going forward ... fact or fiction?

First quarter

11:00-10:51: John Wall’s dribble penetration allows Porter, who is completely ignored, to shift around the arc to offer a passing angle and gets a wide open three. No resistance. Jaylen Brown ball watches so much from the weakside, Porter grabs jersey of Bradley Beal for a soft split to lose the defense – knowing that Avery Bradley would track him every step of the way. Bradley looks back at Beal to make sure he’s accounted for and sleeps on Porter on the open 3 that’s good.

8:57-8:44: The dribble handoff creates this mismatch that leads indirectly to a basket. Wall makes his move and Porter slices into the paint, brushing his man (Brown) off Wall who effectively works as a screener. This forces Boston to switch the 5-7 Isaiah Thomas onto the 6-8 Porter. He loses his dribble and has to kick it out but the switch stays. Easy putback on the offensive rebound by Porter.

Second quarter

9:45-9:34: On defense, Porter is matched up with Kelly Olynyk as a stretch 4. He has to switch with Tomas Satornasky on Marcus Smart after he comes over a ball screen by Olynyk. Porter doesn’t let him turn fully into his shoulder to get up the shot and swats it out of bounds. Porter used his left hand to take away the first angle as he held a superior position shoulder-to-shoulder and blocked it with his right. He absords the contact, stays big, stays vertical and trusts his position and greater reach.

6:52-6:39: Porter sticks to the original principle of keeping size in front of Isaiah Thomas on the screen-roll action with Jonas Jerebko. And Marcin Gortat is there to support Porter from the ball being lobbed over the top. This forces Thomas to make a dangerous skip pass to Bradley and the ball gets reversed again. Wall denies Thomas the handoff from Amir Johnson and forces Thomas into his help. Porter is fronting Jerebko in the post, but he doesn’t clear the area as Jerekbo runs to the opposite block. Porter snuffs out the play between Thomas and Johnson and is there to stop Thomas. Wall gets the block from behind. Porter, who is the player farthest back when the transition starts, beats multiple defenders down floor, fills the lane and gets the and-1 layup aftera nice touch pass from Beal.

[RELATED: Beal questionable vs. Cavs after MRI results]

Fourth quarter

11:05-10:50: Porter screens for Satoransky to get the ball on the weakside. He then goes to set a screen for Marcus Thornton, but Boston takes away that by ice action on the pick-and-roll with Bradley stepping over to send the ball baseline to Jerebko. Thornton quickly moves it out of danger to Porter who is popping instead at the arc. Gerald Green stunts towards him, but Porter keeps his focus on the mismatch with Jerebko at the four spot. He uses an escape dribble to his right that crosses up Jerebko's feet on the recovery for the mid-range jumper. 

10:10-9:57: This is why weakside action creates so much offense. Trey Burke slips and Porter sets a screen for Thornton to come up to get the ball. Johnson, the starting power forward matched up with Porter, is watching the strongside action. Look at the lane in frot of him and behind Jereko and Thomas. Porter makes the right read and the cut to make himself available for Jason Smith’s entry pass. There’s so much space between him and the defender, this fading jumper is basically a layup. This leads to the next possession for the Celtics as Porter’s presence in the paint helps force Thomas’ hand to kick the ball out on the drive, then when Green attacks the rim by getting Thornton off his feet, Porter stops his progress to force the ball out of the middle. Green gets it back and Porter runs out to contest his three. This is two-way basketball and the kind of multiple efforts he makes defensively time and again.

7:05-6:55: This is how Porter sees the floor, improvises and attacks the open space. Wall is going to take a low-percentage jumper in a low shot clock. Porter, who sank deep in the corner while Thornton lifts, can attack that area behind Green and in front of Smart. But as Wall goes to his right, Porter comes up to screen on Green, who now is at the four as Boston goes smaller, in case he passes it to Thornton who could get an open shot. Instead, Wall rises for the jumper, so Porter times his curl into the lane, beats Green to the front of the rim and gets the putback. He works off the ball for himself and gave multiple teammates options.

3:44-3:34: Gortat has the ball in a spot that he won’t possibly shoot it 20 feet from the basket. But the defense is hawking him anyway. All eyes on following the ball, which a lot of coaches teach. That’s a good thing. But if Porter stands in the far corner, that’s an impossible angle to complete a skip pass and even if he gets it he’ll be trapped when the defense recovers. So he curls and finds his sweet spot in front of Brown, who is now at the four, and steps back for the easy deuce.

After struggling with Kris Humphries and Jared Dudley as starting stretch fours last season under Randy Wittman, the Wizards finally found their small-ball answer ... fact or fiction?


They had one all along last season when Porter had what was a career-high 28 points then when he played as a stretch four in an emergency role because of injuries. Porter is a versatile enough defender that when opponents downsize at the spot, he can cover. And he has such a brilliant defensive IQ, he can compensate for size disavantages with bigger fours.

Brooks is not using him to as a safety valve to cover for Wall and Beal when they attack and stand around the arc for threes. He's active. Give Porter the spacing to operate, he can create his own luck and play more like a No. 3 overall pick. Get him moving, and Porter is a better shooter. And he's as good a team defender as he is individually. 

[RELATED: NBA won't further punish John Wall for 2nd ejection]

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John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

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John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

John Wall crossed one of the biggest hurdles of his months-long recovery from arthroscopic left knee surgery on Saturday by participating in his first full practice.

That means Wall went through 5-on-5 scrimmages with teammates that included contact. He is free of restrictions.

Now it is only a matter of days before Wall is ready to return to game action.

"John did everything, he did an entire practice which was great," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought he did a great job offensively and defensively."


Wall, who last played on Jan. 25 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, has missed the Wizards' last 24 games. He has been absent for 35 of their 72 total games this season.

In the months he has been out, Wall has slowly worked his way to this point. He still has to get a few more practices under his belt before the Wizards can outline a target date for his return.

Wall was aggressive in testing his knee by attacking the basket, according to Brooks. Wall was moving around well and even lost a few pounds during his time off.

"He looks great and that's not easy with time off," Brooks said. "He will be back in no time."


The Wizards have gone 14-10 since Wall went down, an impressive mark especially considering how tough their schedule shook out. Most of those games came against teams with winning records either holding playoff spots or fighting for them.

The shine, though, is wearing off. They have lost two straight games and seven of their last 11. Their offense has stalled in recent defeats and it's become more and more clear they could use Wall's presence.

"He gives us that edge," Wall said. "When you have him on the floor, you get a lot of easy shots. John creates a lot of attention when he drives to the basket... I think [his teammates] have always appreciated it, but when you don't have him around you definitely miss it."

While the Wizards continue to wait for Wall to return to games, just having him in practices helps. Brooks explained how guarding a player of Wall's caliber, a five-time All-Star, raises the intensity level of their scrimmages. If his teammates do not bring their best effort, Wall can very easily expose them.


There is also something intangible about Wall's presence. The media sees it once the doors open at practice. He is talkative and energetic on the court.

Some of his teammates even described him as "loud."

"Sometimes I tell him that he's a little too loud," guard Bradley Beal said. "But that's the energy that we've missed."

"He brings the juice. He brings the energy level up," Brooks said. "You miss his spirit. You miss the way he interacts with guys. He's fiery and competitive. He gets after guys. He cheers guys on. I like that. I like guys that show emotion and passion on the court."

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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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