The success that the Wizards have found with Otto Porter playing as a stretch four is a direct result of the three-guard lineups rolled out by coach Scott Brooks.
After trying to shuffle the deck with a second unit that couldn't get in sync in an 0-3 start, Brooks found something in the 95-92 win over the Atlanta Hawks last week. In the third quarter, he substituted Tomas Satoransky for Markieff Morris with 6:12 left. The lineup featured John Wall, Bradley Beal, Satoransky, Porter and Marcin Gortat.
When Wall left at 3:13, he was replaced by Marcus Thornton to keep the look. And then Morris returned for Gortat in the middle. If Satoransky, a rookie, develops a reliable jumper -- the part of his game that needs the most development -- it can be even more successful.
It helps Brooks achieve the spacing that he wants on offense which had been problematic.
"We can space the floor out with shooters which allow John to get into the paint. Everybody's out on the shooters," Porter said. "It helps him create for himself, for Marcin or if they sink in we get kickouts."
For Porter, he's able to improvise pending everyone else's movement and how the defense opts to defend. When Wall or Beal are on the court, the attention they get when the defense loads to the ball naturally creates lanes and avenues for the slip action (See Film Study session on Porter).
"It's just reading John or reading whoever has the ball. The big thing we want to do is we want to get movement," Porter said. "You don't want to get stuck in a spot just watching. Constantly moving, constant interaction with the defense, reading. When we're moving, it allows us, if the shot goes up, to be in position to rebound. It helps everybody.
"We don't ever want to be dictated to. It's hard for you to dictate what I'm going to do If I continue moving. You don't know what I'm going to do. Or if Brad continues to move the defense doesn't know how to react to it. If they do it's a second too late. You're already open. I'm more about moving. Coach Brooks is allowing me to get movement."
And a side effect of all of this is what it does for Trey Burke, too. He had been a disaster until recently, unable to get the Wizards in their offense as Wall's backup. He wasn't getting clean looks, either. He had an explosion in the blowout of the Celtics with 18 points off the bench. He was 7-for-9, including 3 of 4 on threes.
All of Burke's seven made field goals came with him being off the ball or getting it back and taking advantage of bigs switching onto guards on the perimeter. Thornton made the push to set up Burke for his first field goal and the next one came on a handoff from Andrew Nicholson. Burke had a three off another push by Thornton and he gave it up early on the next make and got it back when switches were forced. And the switch occurred again to give Burke a more favorable matchup.
"The pressure of him running the team every possession, it wears on you. Every time down the court on both ends you have to guard the point guard. All the time pick-and-rolls are being set so you have to be locked in on both ends," Brooks said. "So when you have more ballhandlers, more playmakers on the floor I think it eases the burden on all the guys. And Tomas, with his size and athleticism, he can guard multiple players. Trey, I liked the way he played. He doesn't necessarily have to run a pick-and-roll. I don't know if he even scored on an initial pick-and-roll. That's what we're getting (through) to him. He can run our action and if it comes back to him after three or four passes, it's better for him and it's better for our team."