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Otto Porter dominates 2014 summer league debut as Wizards ponder post-Trevor Ariza solution

Jul 12, 2014, 9:29 PM EDT

Otto Porter AP

LAS VEGAS – After fizzling as a rookie, Wizards forward Otto Porter sizzled in his 2014 Las Vegas Summer League. Despite an irrelevant first NBA campaign, the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft remains a key part of Washington’s future along with John Wall and Bradley Beal.

With the news that free agent Trevor Ariza will sign with the Houston Rockets, Porter’s game needs to improve enough to help the Wizards in the present.

“I mean, hey, the door opens up,” Porter said on Saturday following Washington’s summer league opener. “(Trevor) had a tremendous year last year. … Now it’s time for people to step up and fill those shoes.”

If the former Georgetown star’s performance on Saturday in the Wizards 90-74 win over the Atlanta Hawks at the Thomas & Mack Center carries forward, Porter might become Washington’s best post-Ariza world solution.

Playing with confidence and aggression not seen since his college days, Porter led the Wizards with 25 points — including 14 in the third quarter — on 11-of-16 shooting from the field with seven rebounds. The deft mid-range that helped carry him to All-American honors in 2013 helped carry Washington to an easy win. Porter also shined as a passer and controlled the game along with fellow rising second-year wing Glen Rice Jr., who added 22 points.

“Glen and Otto have been working hard all summer,” Wizards summer league head coach Sam Cassell said. “It shows what hard work does. It pays off. … Second half, I told Otto I don’t care how many shots you miss. I just want you to put J’s up. He played well.”

Rarely did Porter play well as a rookie. Actually, he rarely played as a rookie after missing the opening weeks with a hip injury. In 37 games, Porter averaged 2.1 points, never reaching double digits in a single game. That came after hamstring woes kept Porter out for most of last year’s summer league.

The soft-spoken forward loudly dominated in his return to Las Vegas.

“That’s why Sam gave me control of the team. ‘Hey, this is your team. It falls on you and Glen. You’ve got to lead these guys to victory,’” Porter said of his leadership role.

The last time he scored at least 25 points, March 2, 2013. Against Rutgers. That season was also the last time Porter said he felt as comfortable on the court as he did Saturday.

“He took a whole year off last year,” Cassell said, referring to Porter’s limited role. “His mechanics (are) coming back, his fundamentals (are) coming back. Glen and Otto, they’re my least worries on this basketball team.”

Moments after the game, Porter learned that Ariza, a mentor last season, was no longer his teammate.

“He was one of my veteran guys,” Porter said. “I was kind of hoping he would (stay). But at the same time, hey, this is a business.”

Part of the reason why minutes were scarce last season stemmed from playing behind Ariza and Martell Webster. Now Ariza is gone and Webster is recovering from his third back surgery since 2010. Now might be time for Porter to show Washington’s front office that they don’t need to worry or add a notable player in free agency. The small forward solution already exists.

“To have (Trevor) gone – he taught me so much, especially on offense and defense,” Porter said. “Being there, showing me the right things, tricks ins and outs. Got to put them to work, put them to use.”

  1. seattlesuperchronic - Jul 12, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    I watched one of these summer league games and it was weird no having all the camera angles I’m used to. I didn’t mind, but it was different.

  2. garypagetwo - Jul 12, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    who cares .. it’s the summer league .. guy will be lucky to even start 10 games next year .

    • sire2334 - Jul 12, 2014 at 10:37 PM

      Why comment? What an uneducated, ill-informed comment. Translation…..troll.

    • yesser12 - Jul 12, 2014 at 10:39 PM

      Don’t have to start to contribute.

  3. watermelon1 - Jul 12, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    Love me some Sam Cassell!

  4. campcouch - Jul 12, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    The 2013 draft had one of the strangest class result in a while. 1,3 and 6 picks suffering from injury all season, the reigning ROY being considered for trade,late selections playing better than the top picks. So considering guys like Porter and Bennett stunk it up in last years summer league or missed some of it completely, it’s good to see them at least produce in a glorified scrimmage. Otto Porter (should be a type of beer), looks like he’s going to pay off nicely for Washington this coming season.

  5. brianjoates - Jul 12, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    Wiz have to see what type of NBA player, Otto, is going to become. The big push is going to be for Durant and really play up the “coming home” angle. ..just check out his back tat. KD is already legendary in this area, but if he became a wizard, and hopefully a name change back to bullets, he will be bigger than the resident of Pennsylvania ave.
    In two seasons wall, Beal, Durant and bigs…come on now, that’s filthy.

    • shanelsweet - Jul 13, 2014 at 6:34 AM

      Hopefully, we won’t have to put up with 2 years of ridicule from Kurt and his crew about KD coming home like they heaped on everybody who posted that LeBron would be going home.

  6. grantgoodman93 - Jul 12, 2014 at 11:17 PM

    I’d love to see Porter pan out. He is talented and exciting and was one of the all-time great Hoyas for the limited time he was there.

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