The start of the 2015-16 season remains several weeks away, which means there is time for reflection on what the Washington Wizards accomplished and a chance to look at the NBA road ahead. For the next couple of weeks, CSNwashington.com Insider J. Michael and Wizards correspondent Ben Standig will examine various issues and answer questions as the Wizards move toward a possible third straight playoff appearance.
Putting aside the possibility of a position switch...Who is the Wizards starting small forward in 2018, Otto Porter or Kelly Oubre Jr?
J. Michael: Oubre. Porter was taken higher at No. 3, but that was an incredibly weak draft in 2013. The Wizards knew he would be a “glue” player, a utility forward/guard who can do a lot of things well. A sixth-man type who can start if needed, too.
Oubre, drafted 15th and acquired in a trade by the Wizards, was taken because of his star potential. The ceiling for him is considered to be much higher because of his superior athleticism. The lefty is a better athlete and has lightning-fast second and third jumps. And although he’s thin, too, he appears to be more likely to get stronger quicker and has a 7-2 wingspan.
If Kevin Durant comes here as a free agent in 2016, of course, this all is a moot point. The question will become, if Bradley Beal were to leave in a trade or as a free agent, is Oubre or Porter better-suited to start at shooting guard.
Ben Standig: Trick question since we all know the answer is Kevin Durant. Fine, we'll wait on such dream and instead focus on the two small forwards in the building.
Oubre's athleticism is such that general managers and fans alike look straight toward the sky when pondering the future. His feel for the game and perimeter shot aren't ready for prime time, but the overall package, which includes that lengthy wingspan, screams All-Star level potential if Oubre works out the kinks and on his craft.
None of that means he is or will be the best man for the job. The job isn't just about becoming a productive 3-man. It's also about helping to max out the stars on the team, namely John Wall and Bradley Beal. With this angle in mind, the answer is Otto Porter. Why? Because he's already getting the job done.
If the dream is finding a third member for a desired "Big 3," then put your eggs in the Oubre basket. Porter's ceiling probably stops shy of the tri-leading man level. That's OK. Things change if KD2DC happens, but otherwise this franchise goes as far as Wall and Beal them. I've used the following before with Porter, but until I find anything better I'm stick with it: One company's commercial ends with the tagline, "We don't make the products you buy, we make the products you better." The talented Porter doesn't project as superstar, but his low-ego/strong sensibilities game helps make those with All-Star potential better.