Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre look similar and occupy the same spot on the floor for the Wizards on the wing. But in the last two games, especially with this team still lacking bodies because of injuries to Bradley Beal, Nene, Alan Anderson, Gary Neal, Drew Gooden and DeJuan Blair, they have shared the court together.
Porter, a 6-8 small forward, played as the stretch power forward for the Wizards (15-16) in Friday's 103-91 win vs. the Orlando Magic. Oubre, a 20-year-old rookie who had started five games while Porter was out with a thigh bruise, played the entire fourth quarter as the small forward.
“It can be both. We both can play together," said Oubre, who coach Randy Wittman credited with playing his best defense of the season using his 7-2 wingspan for various deflections in addition to his seven points and five rebounds. "We both gel on the court. We both kind of feed off each other’s energy while we're on the court so you can expect big things from us when we're on the court.”
Porter has scored 21, 20 and 20 points in his three games since returning to the starting lineup and is averaging 9.3 rebounds. Oubre was solid in his absence, averaging 8.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and shooting 75% from three-point range.
It was a matter of time before Porter regained his staring job but Oubre's growth has made him a must in Wittman's rotation no matter the injury circumstance. Some of his better work won't appear on the stat sheet and his athleticism is immediately apparent.
“He's definitely learning a lot, especially defense," said Porter, in his third season. "He's learning how to use his length and things like that. With him out there it gives us another lengthy person that can play defense and also rebound for us. That's what we need.”
Porter, 22, was the No. 3 pick in 2013. Oubre was taken No. 15 overall in June, and the Wizards made a draft-night deal to get him from the Atlanta Hawks. Both come with high expectations but Oubre is getting a chance because of the injury rash.
"I control what I can control. Otto is a great player. He came back and he was hot fast and coach made a decision to put him back in the lineup and that was a great decision," said Oubre. "All I can do is continue to do what I’ve been doing, trying to get better to help this team. I can't do anything more or anything less.”
And that's the key. Oubre isn't trying to do too much and despite his cockiness leading up to the start of the season is incredibly level-headed and sure of himself. Perhaps some of that is because he went against Kevin Durant long before he played in the NBA and knew he belonged. He also shares the same personal workout coach as Beal, Drew Hanlen, who spoke glowingly of his work ethic and basketball IQ.
"After Otto starts the three, he played majority the four obviously. Kelly played all 12 minutes in the fourth or close," Wittman said after Friday's win. "That's what we've been doing for the most part here. We got to keep doing it until we get healthy, until you get guys back. ... The good thing about this is there are eight guys here who know they're gonna get to play right now with the injury situation. I think they're using that opportunity.”