After 49 games, the Wizards are starting to figure out where Otto Porter fits best in the offense. If they're intent on sticking with small lineups, the slight-built small forward may be better off logging more time as a "stretch" power forward.
In Tuesday's game at the New York Knicks, Porter likely will be deployed more this way after his 20 points -- 17 came in the second quarter -- in a 108-104 loss at the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.
"A lot of his big scoring games are from the four spot," coach Randy Wittman said Monday before the team left for New York. "Dallas comes to mind off the top of my head, playing against (Dirk) Nowitzki. I told him he's got to have the mentality. I wasn't an NBA All-Star but if I had 18 points at halftime I'm sitting there at halftime saying, 'I've got a great chance to get 36 here.'"
Porter, who has been playing through a tear in the connective tissue in his right hip most of the season, only scored two points in the second half vs. Charlotte as the Wizards squandered a 19-point lead. He began the second quarter, next to Drew Gooden at center, by making two quick three-pointers. Porter was 6 of 9 in the first half but only took five shoots, making just one, in the third and fourth quarters.
When the Wizards (22-27) played without shooting guard Bradley Beal, who'd just gone down a few days prior with a stress reaction in his lower right leg, Porter responded with a career-high 28 points on Dec. 12 vs. the Mavericks in that matchup with Nowitzki. It was during that time Wittman had to experiment with lineups putting Porter there and even Jared Dudley as the five that they had success beating quality teams such as the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, too.
"He definitely looks comfortable. He has a pace to his game," said Garrett Temple, a shooting guard who has started 29 games in place of Beal but has shifted to the three spot on occasion. "He's quicker than the fours he's playing against. We're not playing against any fours that are just going to post up and go to work. He's long enough to be able to get rebounds as long as he checks his man and goes after it. Him being at the four puts him at the position where he has the advantage on offense. The offensive player doesn't not have an advantage against him when he's on defense. I like him at the four for us. He feels good around that slot area catching and shooting threes too. I feel like that's his spot."
In his fourth season, Porter has had glimpses of living up to his No. 3 draft pick status in 2013. Then he has games like the 106-94 win vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. He was on the floor with the second unit and virtually disappeared. Wittman ran a play specifically for Porter to get jump-started to begin the third quarter but he finished with just five points on 2 of 8 shooting.
"I'd like to see that change in him. I'm not worried about Otto Porter, having to call him over and say, 'Son, you're trying to do too much. You're shooting too much.' I want him to think that way. That helps us," Wittman said. "He knows the game. He's a smart basketball player. Good kid. Works hard. All the things a coach wants in a player.
"Now we got to get that to be a consistent nature of his, being aggressive. That helps him at the other end. He can be a good rebounder. We need help rebounding the ball. ... When Otto's a passive guy (offensively), he's passive in almost every area of the game."
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