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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Otto Porter

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Otto Porter

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Otto Porter's season...

Player: Otto Porter

Position: Small forward

Age: 24

2017-18 salary: $24.8 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 31.3 mpg, 14.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 50.3 FG%, 44.1 3P%, 82.8 FT%, 58.1 eFG%, 120 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 10/27 at Warriors - 29 points, 11-for-16 FG, 7-for-9 3PT, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 turnovers, steal, block

Season review: The first year of Otto Porter's new $106.5 million contract played out statistically very much like the last one on his previous deal. Porter put up almost identical numbers, with his points per game average going up 1.3 and his rebounds per game clip staying exactly the same.

Porter helped the Wizards win in a multitude of ways and was efficient as always. He finished third in the NBA in three-point percentage and had the best offensive rating among Wizards starters. 

Porter did a lot of heavy lifting during the 41 games John Wall was out. With Wall out of the mix, Porter became the No. 2 scoring option behind Bradley Beal. At times, he thrived in that role and was essential in keeping them afloat. All in all, the Wizards won more often with Wall available, but the bottom didn't fall out when he was absent and Porter was a big reason for that.

When Wall went out due to left knee surgery in late January, Porter stepped up in a big way. He averaged 19.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and shot 55.1 percent over the next 18 games. There were times during that stretch and during the final months of the season where it was obvious Porter was playing through pain, but he didn't gripe and kept going out there, knowing the Wizards needed him more than usual without Wall.

Moving forward, it's clear the Wizards need to get Porter more involved offensively and particularly late in games. The question is how much blame does he himself deserve for that and the other times he disappears in their offense. It is a frustrating continuum between Porter needing to be more aggressive, his teammates needing to look for him more and head coach Scott Brooks calling his number more often.

Porter's season ended with health concerns. He had his playoffs cut short due to surgery on his left leg. It was a minor procedure, but one that should affect the beginning of his offseason. 

Porter should feel good about how his season went overall. As long as he can continue to increase the volume of his production to go along with his remarkable efficiency, the future is bright.

Potential to improve: Shot total, scoring average, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

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Wizards' Go-Go to Hold Local Tryouts on Saturday

Capital City Go-Go

Wizards' Go-Go to Hold Local Tryouts on Saturday

The Washington Wizards are trying to find their Mark Wahlberg from “Invincible” on the basketball court this weekend.

The Wizards’ G League Affiliate Capital City Go-Go will host its local player tryout at the Entertainment and Sports Arena this Saturday. Both head coach Ryan Richman and general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu will be in attendance to evaluate the area’s talent.

The District’s under the radar ballers will try to impress the Go-Go’s front office for a chance at an invite to training camp in October. The team can invite four of the players at tryouts back to camp. Three invitees ended up playing in a total of 75 games in the team’s inaugural season in 2018-2019. Among them was power forward Isaiah Armwood, who started in 20 games and averaged 11.4 points. 

Not unfamiliar to the D.C. sports scene, the Go-Go finished right outside of the G League playoff picture last season with a 25-25 record. With the Wizards season on the horizon, some local talent could soon find themselves vying for those coveted two-way contract deals. 

The Wizards currently have 18 players on the roster, with 17 of those to be under contract for the upcoming season. Garrison Matthews, an undrafted shooting guard out of Lipscomb, has one of the two two-way contracts. 

Depending on how the first couple of months go for the Wizards, there’s a chance this season could pave the way for some of the Washington’s untapped talent.



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WNBA title has been elusive for Mystics coach Mike Thibault, star Elena Delle Donne

WNBA title has been elusive for Mystics coach Mike Thibault, star Elena Delle Donne

Mike Thibault is used to his teams playing at this time of the year. The WNBA's all-time winningest head coach, Thibault is set to lead the Mystics into the postseason for the third straight year. It will be his 14th playoff appearance as a head coach in 17 total seasons.

Thibault has enjoyed success all over the basketball world, including during his days as an NBA assistant. He won two rings with the Lakers in the early 1980s just down the bench from Pat Riley.

But the one accomplishment that has eluded him is a WNBA championship. No one has gotten quite as close as he has without winning one.

Last year, the Mystics fell in the WNBA Finals to the Seattle Storm. That was Thibault's third Finals appearance and also his third loss. He has 336 career wins in the WNBA. Everyone else with at least 135 wins has a ring.

Thibault even has more playoff wins than any other coach. Yet still, no title.

"Well, it depends," Thibault said when asked to describe his playoff history. "I've been in the playoffs a lot and we've won. I've lost in the Finals three times. But there are a whole bunch of teams sitting at home when you get to the Finals, too."

Thibault's dichotomy of regular-season success and playoff frustration is fairly unique in the world of professional sports. He does have a peer in Don Nelson, the NBA's all-time winning coach who also does not have a title. But the winningest coaches in the NFL (Don Shula), MLB (Connie Mack) and NHL (Scotty Bowman) each won at least four championships. 

Nelson also didn't get to the Finals as often as Thibault. In fact, no NBA coach has ever reached the Finals at least three times without winning it all. 

That type of misfortune is only seen in the NFL where two coaches - Marv Levy and Dan Reeves - lost four times in the Super Bowl. If Thibault gets to the Finals and loses again this season, he could join that group.

Thibault said he looks back on the second time he was in the WNBA Finals as the one that got away. That was back in 2005 when his Connecticut Sun went 26-8 in the regular season, same as this year's Mystics, to tie the best record of his career. 

In the Finals that year, All-Star Lindsay Whalen suffered a left leg injury in Game 1 that shifted the series in favor of the Sacramento Monarchs. It took Thibault 13 years to get back to the Finals last season.

Though the Mystics lost last year, Thibault believes they are on the right track.

"We lost in the Semifinals two years ago and we lost in the Finals last year. This year, we're back in the playoffs and in the Semifinals again," he said. "You just keep knocking at the door and hopefully your experience and your skill improvement makes the difference this time around. We're a better team than we were a year ago. That doesn't guarantee anything, but we are a better team."

The Mystics are also searching for their first title as a franchise. And Elena Delle Donne, who could win her second WNBA MVP award this season, is no stranger to getting close herself. After last year, she is 0-for-2 in the WNBA Finals.

The Mystics' mantra this season has been 'run it back.' But it could also be framed as unfinished business.

"He loves [the game]," Delle Donne said of Thibault. "He is just passionate about it, so to bring him something he's never earned, since I feel like he's done literally everything else under the sun, would be really cool for this team."