LAS VEGAS -- The timing could not be more perfect for Otto Porter. As the Wizards lost Trevor Ariza in free agency during Saturday's summer-league opener versus the Atlanta Hawks, Porter -- who had an almost irrelevant rookie season -- is starting to play like a No. 3 overall draft pick.
Porter was chosen by the Wizards in 2013 as Ariza's eventual replacement, but was derailed by a right thigh strain during summer league as a rookie. The injury led to a right hip flexor strain that delayed his development.
Saturday, Porter was the show. He had a hand in the Wizards' first 13 points, even though the stat sheet didn't immediately reflect it in the 90-74 victory:
- Porter collected the opening tip won by Daniel Orton.
- Coming off a screen set by Orton, Porter escaped the grasp of Lamar Patterson to bury the elbow jumper for a 2-0 lead.
- After Orton rebounded a miss by the Hawks, he made an outlet pass to Porter who pushed the pace, drew the double-team and found Khem Birch for a jump hook in the lane for a 4-0 lead.
- Birch passed to Porter, who found Glen Rice on a post-up for a turnaround shot and the foul. Rice made the foul shot for a 7-0 lead.
- Porter popped out and was found on a pass from Maalik Wayns. Faced with another double-team, he found Birch again in the lane for a chip shot, 9-4.
- Porter grabbed a long offensive rebound on Wayns' miss and hit the mid-range jumper, 11-4.
- Porter came up with a loose ball as the Hawks turned it over and, as he was doubled, Birch was the beneficiary as he made a pivot for another easy one, 13-4.
It wasn't until Rice's free throws at 5:54 of the first quarter on a strong drive to the basket that Porter wasn't directly involved in a play for the Wizards that resulted in points. When the second unit came in, the Wizards lost their lead and trailed 41-35 at half.
Then Porter lit them up for 14 points in the third quarter alone. He finished with a game-high 25 on 11-for-16 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists. Rice didn't shoot well at 4-for-10, but he still had 22 points because he was able to get to the foul line, where he made 14 of 16.
This is just summer league. Getting too high or low on a performance can be fool's gold, but the Wizards have to look at this glass as half-full. Porter is playing on a rookie scale contract which makes him cheaper than Ariza.
He has the same wiry frames and can multitask. While Ariza is an accomplished three-point shooter, making a career-high 40.7% last season, Porter is better off the dribble and mid-range. Both of these areas were weaknesses for the Wizards in their 44-win season that ended with a second-round playoff appearance.
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