Porter: From a Hoya to a Wizard
Minutes after the Wizards officially introduced former Georgetown star Otto Porter as their own, John Thompson III and Randy Wittman spoke on the same dais, mano-a-mano, coach-a-coach. The man who directed the small forward in college and combined for many wins at the Verizon Center to the one now tasked with directing Porter on the pro level inside the same arena
Sadly, there was no actual passing of the Porter baton, but there was certainly information exchanged. The process likely went for weeks if not months before the Wizards made the versatile 6-foot-8 forward the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, adding him to the building block backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Based on Thompson's appreciation for all aspects of Porter's high IQ, heavy instincts, coachable and skilled game, how could Wittman not love what he heard?
"We keep using this word 'versatile,'" Thompson said. "What that means is whatever the coach wants of [Otto], he'll be able to do, to compliment the pieces already here. They have a very good young nucleus and so the future is bright. I think he's another piece of the puzzle."
Leading up to the draft, Thompson often stated his belief that his guy was the top guy in the draft class, telling CSNwashington last month, "I'm biased, but I also think I'm right: I think he's the most complete player in the draft, the most ready player in the draft."
Many draft pundits concurred with the "most ready" tag, which is why "safe" often entered into any profile of the unanimous Big East Player of the Year. The downside of that label to some is that Porter lacks the upside compared to others.
"He'll show them, he'll show them," Thompson said. "Time will tell. ...I'll stay behind and look two, three, four years from now and see what type of career he's having. That's not say the other guys aren't going to have very good careers also, but we'll see what type of career he's going to have."
With former Hoyas Greg Monroe, Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert enduring similar pre-draft knocks, Thompson has witnessed this scenario before.
"If you go back - I think I'm right about this - but you probably heard the same things about Jeff compared to people in his draft class. You definitely heard it about Greg compared to people in his class. Roy - look at what they're doing. The proof is in the pudding."
As for why his latest first rounder can succeed in the NBA, Thompson returned to that "v" word, but expanded on its definition.
"I think he can be in many situations and have success, whether it's on the perimeter, on the wing, on the post, with the ball in his hands, moving without the ball," Thompson said.
"Versatility is a word that is thrown around as it relates to Otto and most people think just about the offensive end. I think he's someone that is going to be versatile and can guard multiple positions at the defensive end. As time goes on, as he gets stronger - that will happen with age - that will increase even more, who he can defend. Whatever coach wants him to do I think he'll be able to help and contribute from day one."
Porter said at his press conference that he's fine starting his career as a reserve. The Wizards could re-sign Martell Webster and at present, Trevor Ariza remains on the roster, meaning Wittman can let his newest forward adjust slowly if needed. Based on how Porter's game advanced from his freshman to sophomore season, if he's coming off the bench, it won't be for long.
"It's been a progression," Thompson said of Porter's development. "He doesn't make the same mistake twice. He understands the notion of each year you have to improve and he's does that. ...You can be a team player and still take over games. They are not mutually exclusive. I think he understands that balance...I'm glad he's here with this organization in Washington."
Thompson is not the only one.
"He's a basketball player," Wittman said of Porter at the press conference. "Sometimes people get labeled to be a shooter, a rebounder, a guy to block shots. This guy plays basketball. Knows how to play. As a player, those were the kind of players I loved playing with because they make you better."