Wittman pushes Porter to push the pace

Wittman pushes Porter to push the pace
July 13, 2013, 12:00 am
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Wittman: Porter still needs time to adjust to NBA

Otto Porter is starting his professional basketball career in the same city he starred as a collegian, but one thing is for sure: the former Georgetown star is not in the Princeton offense anymore.

Shortly before the Wizards left for Las Vegas, site of the of the 2013 NBA Summer League, the first round pick expressed no surprise regarding his first professional mini-camp. Washington opens play Saturday vs. the Golden State Warriors (CSN, 4 p.m. ET; replay, 7).

However, the versatile 6-foot-9 forward is going through a significant adjustment. On his first day, Porter noted being caught off-guard by the professional speed. On his fourth day, the former Georgetown star went back down that velocity path when asked about the differences between the system deployed by Georgetown coach John Thompson III and what Wizards coach Randy Wittman desires.

"It is different, we're a running team now," Porter said on Thursday. "Most of the plays are on transition, getting quick baskets, things like that. It is a lot more getting up and down the court more. ...Coach Wittman says, 'hey, always push it, never walk it up."

Even though Wittman has been pleased with the early practices, he recognizes Porter's needs a push when it comes to pushing the ball.

"He has a little bit of trouble right now understanding that we want him to turn when there is a change of possession and run," said Wittman, who last year helped Bradley Beal make the college-to-NBA transition.

"Bradley went through it. It's a quicker paced game, quicker decision making, quicker players you're playing against," Wittman continued. "It's just a whole other thing, but [Otto] did fine here in these practices. It's another step Saturday when we get to Vegas and start playing against probably better competition then he's ever faced so far while being at Georgetown and at camp."

Despite the rise in competition and pace, the poised Porter shows no signs of being overwhelmed. He also displayed progress during the team's scrimmage on Thursday. After grabbing a rebound, Porter turned, looked up court and hurled a perfect 70-foot pass to a streaking Chris Singleton.

Let's also be clear on this: Georgetown wasn't exactly running a four corners offense. Even if the pace could lag for stretches, halves or full games - often because of the opposition's plan -, Porter and the Hoyas showed they could thrive with the ball moving quickly. That style simply wasn't the game-in, game-out norm.

Wittman: "I think that's going to be his biggest adjustment in terms of his ability to get out on the floor and run. Changing ends of the floor is important from an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint."

Asked if he spoke with Thompson in detail about Porter, Wittman said, "I talked to him a little bit about the kid, his background, what motivates him, what doesn't. I'm sure [Otto] is going to notice I'm probably not a lot like John. I gotta be me."

As for area in which Thompson and Wittman are most definitely the same, appreciating Porter's ability to learn quickly.

"There's not a whole lot of times you have to say to him two or three times before he understands what you're talking about," Wittman said. "He's a very likable young man. He's that way on the floor as well."

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