A little more than a week ago, coach Randy Wittman suggested that the D-League could be an option for rookie Otto Porter, who hasn't logged any significant playing time since the first game of the Wizards' recently concluded West coast trip, but the likelihood of that happening appears to be very slim.
If Martell Webster or Trevor Ariza go down, that quickly would thrust Porter into a significant role. Webster fell ill last Friday at the Phoenix Suns and Porter played 19 minutes. He played just 3:34 seconds in the last three games of the trip. Before that, Porter hadn't played double-digit minutes since Jan. 7, but that is an example of why the Wizards can't afford to send him to the Iowa Energy -- just in case stuff happens.
Rice went down to play three games there before returning this week because there wasn't a lot of practice time available -- they played two sets of back-to-back games -- and he needed to rehabilitate his right (shooting) wrist that required surgery last month. It wasn't because he lacked confidence, a cliche often used for why young players such as Rice and Porter should be sent. For some, as various front-office NBA types will attest, such an assignment for anything other than injury can hurt confidence especially when it comes to high lottery picks.
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Even though Porter was slowed by a right hip flexor strain to start the season, he had to stick around to learn first-hand the offensive and defensive systems after missing all of training camp and preseason. Sending him to the D-League at that time, when there was quality practice time available with his NBA teammates, would've been counterproductive. The Energy aren't using the same concepts like some D-League teams that have a one-to-one relationship with an NBA franchise. The Energy take players from the Wizards, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets.
While Porter has to find his shot, only 29.6% shooting, he has been fluid at times in moving off the ball, passing, defending and rebounding in his spot minutes. As the No. 3 pick, Porter and No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett (Cleveland Cavaliers) were not chosen for the Rising Stars Challenge for All-Star Weekend next month, a showcase for rookie and second-year players. Porter is averaging less than two points and two rebounds per game. Bennett, who fell out of shape over the summer when he had shoulder surgery, averages less than three in each category.
Porter still is behind, but he's at least he hasn't had any recurrences and conditioning is no longer an issue. And with the Wizards being thin on the bench -- remember, they don't even have Al Harrington (right knee) back yet -- the plan appears to be for Porter to stay put. As of now he's ahead of Rice and Chris Singleton in the rotation. It might not be ideal, but that's a start.