We take a break from the Emeka Okafor-Marcin Gortat trade discussion for an Otto Porter injury update. There has been progress. Small steps kind of progress during Friday's practice, but progress all the same.
"He did a little bit more," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of the rookie forward, who has been dealing with a right hip flexor. "He's not done anything close to anything live. He did some shooting today, conditioning up and down the floor, which is a positive. He hasn't done that before."
Under the direction of Wizards head athletic trainer Eric Waters, Porter ran sideline-to-sideline during the portion of practice available to the media.
Progress or not, don't expect to see the small forward suit up in Washington's regular season opener on October 30 at Detroit. As Wittman noted when speaking with the media about Porter earlier in the week, dual issues exist whenever the former Georgetown star is cleared for practice: Conditioning and catching up with the speed of the NBA game.
The former is just a matter of time. The lithe forward appears in shape, but gathering his wind to compete with the top athletes at breakneck speed is something else.
The latter is trickier. Porter displayed an instinct-heavy game during his two seasons with the Hoyas. As a freshman, he was immediately part of the rotation and eventually moved into the starting lineup.
With the Wizards, veterans Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster block Porter's path for minutes at small forward. Though Washington used the rookie at guard during the Las Vegas Summer League, Porter's skill set isn't ideally suited for backcourt work. As with all rookies, he certainly could have used the preseason for two reasons: education and gaining his coaches trust.
At this point, giving Wittman the choice to use or not use Porter would be considered a win. In that case, Porter is making progress, at least a little.