Otto Porter Jr. Totally Deserves a Max Contract
For a hot minute, Otto Porter Jr. was a joke.
Not on the offensive side of the court, mind you. Even during his first two seasons with the Washington Wizards, the 6'8" small forward proved he could put the ball in the basket, racking up reasonable per-36-minute point averages of 8.8 in his 2013-14 rookie year, then 11.2 in his sophomore season.
On the defensive side of the court, however, the 24-year-old's ball-stopping chops were in serious question. Here's some classic Otto from 2015 (he's in the bottom left of the video).
For a time, those sort of lapses overshadowed Porter's growth as a player. But during his outstanding 2016-17 season, the Georgetown product became one of the most reliable third options in the Association, when he, in averaging 13.4 points, hit double figure in 69 of his 80 starts. Imagine what he could've done had teammates John Wall (usage percentage of 30.6%) and Bradley Beal (usage percentage of 26.5%) been a tad less stingy with the rock.
This summer, Porter became a restricted free agent. It's his time to get paid, and there are a handful of teams who want to pay him.
And they should.
Considering the lack of depth at the small forward position in today's NBA, it's little surprise that the athletic, fiery Porter is one of the sexier free agents on the street -- so sexy, in fact, that the Brooklyn Nets threw him four-year, $106 million max offer sheet. As of this writing, the Wizards are apparently going to match, but the thought of shelling out $25 million a year to a third option might give team owner Ted Leonsis pause.
Memo to Ted: Don't pause. Fork over the dough.
Porter's minutes have significantly increased in each of his four seasons (8.6, 19.4, 30.3 and 32.6), so the best way -- possibly the only way -- to gauge his impressive level of improvement is to examine those per-36-minute digits.
The numbers that are making NBA general managers drool in particular are the shooting percentages. His evolution from bricklayer to marksman bespeaks not just of his growing talent, but of his work ethic and maturity, all characteristics necessary to justify doling out max bucks.
Porter's advanced stats also tell a quality story. He finished 2016-17 tied for 15th in true shooting percentage, ahead of James Harden, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, And he was one of only two NBA players (the other being Denver's Gary Harris) to shoot better than 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from distance while averaging at least 10 points per game. He also checked in 20th in nERD, our in-house metric that you can read more about in our glossary.
Not bad for a guy whose usage percentage was a paltry 15.1%. Apologies for the repetition, but imagine what he could've done had teammates John Wall (usage percentage: 30.6%) and Bradley Beal (usage percentage: 26.5%) been a tad less stingy with the rock.
If Porter does indeed land in Brooklyn, he'll become their go-to guy (sorry, D'Angelo Russell, but you know it's true), and justifiably so. Stacked against the players currently on the Nets roster who played 70 or more games in 2016-17, Porter's per-36-minute numbers would rank him second on the team in scoring, third in rebounding, first in shooting percentage, and second in free throw percentage.
And remember, Porter put up those numbers as a third banana. On the Nets, his talent and contract would demand that his usage percentage be considerably higher than the aforementioned 15.1%. His paycheck would earn him the ball, and his talent would earn him the stats.
The decision, right now, is out of Porter's hands, but one has to wonder where his head's at. If it's Brooklyn, he's an alpha dog on a lottery team, and if it's Washington, he's a good soldier on a playoff squad. Tough call, but either way, Otto Porter Jr. is going to be a wealthy man.
And you know what? He deserves it.