There is a new coach and therefore the likelihood of new schemes and ways to use the holdovers on the Washington Wizards roster. That said, there is no reason to think Otto Porter won't start opening night and beyond based on numbers from last season.
The small forward, who started 73 of the 75 games he played last season, averaged 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals. Porter shot 47.3 percent from the field, 75.4 percent on free throw attempts and 36.7 percent on 3-pointers. Other than steals (2nd on Wizards, 31st in NBA), none of those stats wow the reader, though all represent career-highs. It's been said Porter's game overall doesn't always translate to the more traditional numbers because much of his work involves movement off ball and steadfastly playing something of a waiting game role while John Wall and Bradley Beal dominate possession. That's why it's good to check out other stats that help paint a bigger picture of his value and improvement.
3-point shooting percentage
It's not enough to look at the season number for any conclusion, though a 36.7 clip works. It's just that as the season went along, Porter was much, much better. Here are the top NBA 3-point shooting percentage leaders after the All-Star break (min 75 attempts):
Josh Richardson, 53.3% (48-90)
JJ Redick, 47.3 (70-148)
CJ McCollum, 47.1 (72-153)
Seth Curry, 46.3 (37-80)
Norman Powell, 45.5 (35 of 77)
Stephen Curry, 45.4 (157, 346)
Chandler Parsons, 44.7 (34 of 76)
Otto Porter, 44.7 (46 of 103)
With Wall controlling the ball and Beal likely to receive more opportunity after signing his max contract, plus Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris up front, Porter could often find himself as the fifth option offensively. In some ways, that makes him the swing player for both teams. Send a double team toward Wall with Porter's man and it's up to the former Georgetown star to make them pay. Over his final 31 games last season, Porter did just that.
Ratings (per Basketball Reference)
* In this offensive stat that estimates points per 100 possessions with a player on the court, Porter (112) finished third on the Wizards last season by co-leaders Gortat and Jared Dudley (114).
* Include the defensive side and Porter's net rating of +7 tied Dudley or second behind Gortat (+10).
* Win shares is an estimate of wins contributed by a player. Last season Porter's 5.6 ranked third behind Gortat (7.3) and John Wall (5.7). He remained third (Gortat, Nene) even when examining WS per 48 minutes.
The Wizards need more from Porter this season if they hope to contend in the Eastern Conference. His 2015-16 usage rate, an indication of a player's on-ball activity, was rather low for any type of leading man. Becoming more assertive is key to help alleviate pressure off others, but so is the idea of Porter improving on what he did last year.
"For sure, definitely. Looking to take on more of the role," Porter said of his plans for the upcoming season. "Continue to work, continue to raise my level of play. Continue to compete at a high level...At the same time, doing whatever it takes to make sure we win."
New head coach Scott Brooks indicated at media day that minutes at small forward are up for grabs. We'll see about that.
"That's the way I want it to be," Porter said of competition. "I don't want anything handed to me."
Like Porter, Kelly Oubre Jr. was a first round pick. Unlike Porter's more cerebral game, Oubre's athleticism oozes upside, though efficiency proved illusive during his rookie season. Both small forwards will play. Based on his growth last season and the team's need for a robust 2016-17 season, it would be surprising if Porter didn't get the start from the start. That's because what he did last year in his specific role was pretty good.