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Otto Porter throws himself into the stretch-4 mix


Otto Porter throws himself into the stretch-4 mix

So much was made about the Wizards lack of stretch-4 options last regular season that we're clearly making a (Donald Trump voice) huge deal about the scenario ahead of the 2015-16 campaign. 

  • Drew Gooden re-signed. Deep shooting threat, though not really quick enough to defend the sleek perimeter forwards. Reliable and always ready for action.

That's five names right there. How about one for the thumb? How about...Otto Porter?

The rising third-year forward was a guest Tuesday on SiriusXM NBA Radio. Hosts Tom Byrne and Vinny Del Negro asked the former Georgetown standout if he was ready to step into Pierce's stretch-4 shoes.

“Definitely, because that’s how the NBA is transitioning, you know, to smaller lineups," Porter said. "So being able to stretch out as a four is going to be key, and that is something with our coaching we might end up doing. It’s definitely something I’ll be comfortable with.”

First off, don't get tripped up by Porter's use of the word "definitely." We all have our words ticks and one of Porter's is using that d-word at the start of sentences. (He again starts an answer with "definitely" in response to the very next question about the team's expectations following two straight playoff appearances.)

That said, depending on the matchup, sure the lengthy Porter could certainly defend other perimeter forwards - if those other perimeter forwards are also true small forwards masquerading as four's. Players like DeMarre Carroll and Tayshaun Prince come to mind.

At last check, the 6-foot-8 Porter tipped the scales at a mere 198 pounds. By comparison, Atlanta's Paul Millsap, a matchup nightmare for Washington during the playoffs, is listed at 253. Dudley (223 pounds) isn't that big, but certainly has enough base to push back.

Here's another point: Porter started emerging as a legitimate 3-and-D option late last season. Just ask Toronto's DeMar DeRozan.

That's another en vogue role around the NBA. Players who can defend opposing wings and then sink 3-pointers without being the focal point of the offense. Ultimately, this is where Porter will make his mark while hopefully expanding on his game.

Even though he has the height and length, it's a stretch thinking of Porter as a consistent stretch-4 until he truly bulks up. The thing is, that's fine. He's needed elsewhere. 

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: How they can keep it rolling in Game 5


Wizards Tipoff podcast: How they can keep it rolling in Game 5

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes, Travis Thomas and Julie Donaldson reset the series and looked ahead to Game 5.

They were joined by TSN Sports anchor Kayla Grey to find out the Toronto perspective. The Wizards have all the momentum in this series, now they just have to keep it going.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Even after injury-riddled year, Wizards are seeing peak John Wall in playoffs

Even after injury-riddled year, Wizards are seeing peak John Wall in playoffs

You would not have known it by John Wall's towering poster-dunks over Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl in Game 4, or his fourth quarter takeover after Bradley Beal fouled out, but Wall is still technically working his way into midseason form from the left knee surgery that kept him out more than two months down the stretch of the regular season. Add into the equation that he sprained his right ankle in Game 3, then resprained it in Game 4 right after Beal went out, and it's quite clear that what he is doing is simply not normal. 

Throughout Wall's recovery, his head coach Scott Brooks remarked how Wall can regain his form unusually quick following an injury absence. Game 4 was just his eighth game back, yet through four playoff games he is averaging an absurd 26.8 points, 13.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 1.0 blocks.

If that's what he's doing eight games removed from recovery, and against the top team in the Eastern Conference, what does peak playoff form look like? 

"I told y'all, I told all the media that I only need like three or four games. I really didn't need too many games," he said. "All the hard work that I did in those two months was to prepare myself to be ready for the playoffs."

Wall said he started feeling like himself in his final regular season game, his fourth outing following the injury rehab. It was against the Celtics and he scored 29 points to go along with 12 assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

"I just started to see shots fall down that I was falling short with a couple games before that," Wall said of that night.

Brooks saw a change in Wall against the Cavaliers on April 5, in just his third game back. That game Wall put up 28 points, 14 assists, four rebounds and three steals. Most importantly, he logged 38 minutes.

"I knew I was going to challenge his body with extra minutes," Brooks said. "The way he responded to that, I knew he was back."

Whenever the turning point happened, there is no looking back. Wall has found his groove to not only impact, but at times dominate playoff games against one of the best defensive teams in basketball.

In Game 4 once Beal went down, Wall looked like the best player on the court. He scored eight of the Wizards' final 14 points to seal the victory and did so on a bum ankle. He outshined both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, two All-Star guards.

Wall even played sound defense on DeRozan in big moments. DeRozan shot 10-for-29 in the game.

"I think I did a good job of contesting him," Wall said. "Just do whatever it takes to help this team win."

What Brooks predicted would happen has indeed played out. He has been with Wall for about two years now and knows what the star point guard is made of.

"I've been with him two years, he loves to play," Brooks said, noting there have been some tough conversations to convince him to come out of games.

Consider this: Wall has scored 20 points or more in six straight games, his longest streak of the 2017-18 season. He has actually reached 23 points or more in those six games, which is tied for the longest such streak of his entire career.

Through eight games overall and four games in the playoffs, Wall has reminded everyone of what the Wizards missed. Yes, they went 10-3 when he first went down with the injury in late January, but that was not sustainable.

They need Wall to reach their full potential as a team and especially in the postseason. Late-game situations like in Game 4, when Beal exited and it was tied with 4:58 to play, are when the superstars separate themselves.

Wall did that and now the Wizards are in good shape with the series at 2-2 and having won two straight.

"Blame everything on him," Brooks joked of the Wizards' up-and-down regular season. "If he wasn't hurt, we'd be better, right?"

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