Grunfeld, Wittman very happy to take Porter
The proximity initiated the Wizards' interest in Otto Porter. When they got to know the small forward of the Georgetown Hoyas, it quickly became a slam-dunk.
After Anthony Bennett was the shocking No. 1 pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Victor Oladipo was snapped up second by the Orlando Magic, Porter was the first non-shocking pick in Thursday's NBA draft. The Wizards chose him third overall.
Randy Wittman, a no-nonsense coach who has eradicated problems from the locker room going into his second full season, sees a 6-8 player who fits with his style of play, has the right attitude and addresses a serious need.
The Wizards have a starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal and eventually will have Porter to start at small forward, if not right away. Last season, Martell Webster inherited that role and was backed up by Trevor Ariza. Webster is a free agent. Ariza will be in the final year of his contract.
“He’s a basketball player. Sometimes people get labeled to be a shooter, a rebounder, a guy to block shots. This guy plays basketball. Knows how to play,” Wittman said of Porter, Big East player of the Year who averaged 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 48% shooting. “As a player, those were the kind of players I loved playing with because they make you better.”
The Wizards haven’t made the postseason since 2008 and finished last season 29-53. Wittman is going into the final year of his contract, as is president Ernie Grunfeld. They won't admit it, but Porter must pan out to finally get the Wizards over the hump.
“He has the total package. He has good work ethic, he’s a team player, he can do multiple t things on the floor, he can guard several positions,” Grunfeld said. “He’s a young player who we think could be with us for many many years to come as far as Bradley and John are concerned.
“Fans are familiar with him. He has a very good reputation here and that makes it all that much better, but the bottom line is he’s a good basketball player.”
The Hoyas play most of their home games at Verizon Center, where the Wizards play. Wittman credited coach John Thompson III for grooming Porter for the NBA.
“Being close here gave us an opportunity. I’m a basketball coach, so whenever there’s a basketball game in our arena and I’m around, I stick my head in and watch. It doesn't matter who it is,” Wittman said. “Georgetown plays here. I had an opportunity to maybe have a little bit better feel what coach Thompson does with the players here. He forces them to learn how to play the game the right way. That’s huge.”
The Wizards will first get a chance to see Porter in action when he joins their summer league team in Las Vegas next month. The Wizards will play at least five games in the tournament format and will be televised on NBA TV.