Otto Porter needs to get up to NBA speed
For an instant, all that could be heard inside the Verizon Center were gasps and then nothing at all. Following a collision under the basket, Wizards first round pick Otto Porter was on the ground, grimacing, grabbing his leg. Fans and others on hand to watch the team's summer leaguers practice and scrimmage went from carefree to stunned silence.
Then Porter rose up, limped to the sideline and sat on the bench while Wizards trainer Eric Waters checked out the former Georgetown small forward. Soon the grimacing stopped, then fears subsided. Eventually the report was Porter had suffered cramps, nothing more. The scary moment was just that, a moment.
"I’m doing good," Porter said after the Wizards Summer Fest event. "I just came down on my leg real hard. Boom. And then it got tight. That was it. Nothing serious. It wasn’t nothing scary. I knew what had happened soon as I fell. I knew I had kind of cramped in my leg, but I got up, walked on it. Drank some fluid and it went away."
Regardless of what basketball lessons he's learning from Wizards coach Randy Wittman, Porter now understands that at this level, drinking plenty of water before, during and after two-a-day practices isn't just talk. Neither is the idea that competition increases.
"It was a tough two-a-day set. It’s the first couple of practices. You’re still getting used to practice, playing extremely hard. You’ve got to take care of your body. Got to drink your fluid, "said Porter shortly after signing autographs for a long line of fans while sporting red framed sunglasses the team handed out to the crowd - and apparently their rookie.
The crowd cheered when Porter came on court and appropriately oohed and aahed when he sank jumpers, scored inside or made the instinctive plays that helped earn him All-American honors last season with the Hoyas inside the same arena.
"It was amazing," Porter said of the reaction. "To walk in and get an ovation. But it was amazing to step on the court the first time and it not being Georgetown. Just the experience, playing on the new court was a fun experience."
Porter, fellow rookie Glen Rice and Wizard veterans Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely played along with other members of the summer league team that will begin games in Las Vegas on Saturday. Injured guard Bradley Beal watched from the sidelines, only stepping on court during a stop in play to shoot free throws and jumpers. Martell Webster, in town to sign his new contract this week, sat in the stands with team president Ernie Grunfeld but not before making a deep shot from the scorer's table during a break.
Former Georgetown head coach John Thompson Jr. was among those watching the 6-foot-9 Porter frequently matched up against the 6-foot-5 Rice on both ends of the court. Rice made his own assortment of shots from near and far. Perhaps most impressive, he didn't shy away from the defensive challenge of guarding the talented and taller Porter.
"He’s a good player," said Rice, who received his first taste of the professional game playing in the D-League last season. "We going to make each other better every day. Just getting out there and doing what we do. Just another guy. Another great player and I just take it as a challenge, just play hard and show the coaches my defensive side."
He did just that, but Porter rose above the tight coverage to drain many more shots than he missed.
"We both going at each other, "Porter said. "We want to make each other better. Just to help out our team, help out ourselves just by getting better and going hard at each other. I told him, ‘Don’t give up no slack on me, ‘cause I ain’t going to give you no slack, either'. So we just go hard at each other."