A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Why Otto Porter is a high risk, high reward prospect

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Otto Porter is widely considered a sure bet to be picked top 5 or 6 in the draft. A buzz word for Porter is “safe”. Porter’s intelligence, maturity and production in college supposedly makes him a more reliable bet than more volatile prospects.

My main reason for believing Porter is risky, is his offensive game will rely on shooting. Porter is not a dynamic slasher, due to a lack of explosive athleticism or great ballhandling. He is unlikely to be dynamic scoring points in the paint and at the FT line. Porter’s offensive strengths in college come from midrange and 3 point shooting which means he has to produce in those areas.

Although Porter hit 42.2% from 3 in the NCAA, hitting 43 from 102 from 3 point line is on  a small sample size. If Porter had hit 33 of 102 3s, he’d have hit 32.4% from the 3pt line, a mediocre number. These 10 3s over the course of the season, is well within variable range. Porter’s 77.7% from the FT line from this season on the other hand was mediocre for a 3 point shooter. Another warning sign is Porter shot 22.6% from 3 and 70.2% from the FT line as a freshman at Georgetown.

Porter’s strength is his feel for the game, arguably the best in the class. Calling his instincts, control and fluidity elite is an understatement, he plays the game at an Andre Miller like slower pace than everyone else. I also give most of the credit of his rebounding numbers, to his instincts and feel for the game. In addition to that he has great size, length and rebounding for a small forward. However for him to make an offensive mark in the NBA, I need to see him either attack the basket at a standout level (unlikely), or for him to be a noted 3pt threat. I would suspect a Porter with a non-existent 3pt shooting/perimeter scoring game in the NBA, in addition to a lack of slashing, makes him a widely considered bust if taken top 5. He would simply have nothing to provide offensively. Furthermore this will be trouble early in his career, since the majority of young players struggle on defense due to inexperience. Porter will likely need offense to be a useable starter early in his career.

Here are my talent grades for Otto, using this rubric in each category – 11: Transcendent, 10: Incredible 9: Elite, 8: Great, 7: Above average, 6: Decent, 5: Average, 4: Lacking, 3: Below average, 2: Very poor, 1: Awful

Overall grades: 25+: Perennial all-star talent, 23-24: Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent, 19-22: Blue Chip starter talent, 17-18: Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent, 14-16: Rotation player talent, 12-13: Deep bench to rotation player talent, 11 or lower: Deep bench player talent

Physical impact talent grade: 4 – If judged only on his ability to physically impact the game by attacking the basket, I’d have him graded lower than this. I bumped up his score for his length which should help him make him a physical impact defensively.

Skill impact (Shooting, post, passing) talent grade: 6 – I will give Otto the benefit of the doubt, that he can learn to be a solid 3pt shooter in the NBA, which has value at a SF position where a lot of its players don’t hit 3s. Furthermore he gets some credit for passing for his position and upside in the post with his length.

Feel for the Game talent grade: 10 – Otto is a clear cut monster in this category.

Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

This indicates Porter passes the sniff test as a top 10 pick. If he can hit 3s in the NBA, that in combination with his feel, length and passing and post upside, make him a likely starter. Two players Otto reminds me of are Tayshaun Prince and Chandler Parsons.

However I feel he is a high risk prospect because of the unpredictability of his skill category. If his outside shooting ability rolls a snake eyes in the NBA, this would be enough to push him down to marginal, average talent (15-17). I would suspect that Otto without 3pt range is such an ineffective offensive player, that becoming a starter instead of a journeyman would be difficult. At the same time if he became one of the most skilled perimeter options in the league, the grade I gave to Otto could also conceivably be too low. The most likely scenario is somewhere in the middle, but still I find the label of Porter as a low risk, low upside player, to be misguided due to the relationship between shooting and unpredictability for draft prospects.

Written by jr.

April 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Posted in Basketball, NBA Draft

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. dont you think porter’s feel for the game is inflated because he is so poor at slashing? what i mean is, getting to the rim is literally the last thing a defense wants you to do, so its very hard. your skill level has to be simply off the charts if you are not only good at getting to the rim but also look smooth and fluid and comfortable doing it. porter does a lot of settling on the perimeter where a defense is more likely to concede space and opportunity, so it is maybe a lot easier for him to look unhurried. now its to porters credit that he still plays so well within his teams system and doesnt try to do things he cannot do, but im wondering if his feel for the game is too much the result of offensive style/strategy.


    April 25, 2013 at 5:28 am

    • Interesting thought, but whether it’s easier to be a strong feel for the game player when perimeter orientated, doesn’t affect the value it provides for a player like Porter, if that makes sense. There’s a number of SFs like Paul George, Nic Batum, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Tayshaun Prince, Chandler Parsons, who I wouldn’t call standout players attacking the basket off the dribble, but get a lot of value out of feel for the game.


      April 25, 2013 at 2:08 pm

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