While Otto Porter isn’t the only player working out for the Washington Wizards on Friday— Jackie Carmichael, Kevin Dillard, Ryan Evans, Viktor Gaddefors and Bruce Massey also are — all eyes will be fixated on last year’s Big East Player of the Year.
After nearly two weeks of player workouts at the Verizon Center, Washington is beginning to hone in on who to select with their first round pick. This process started Thursday as Washington had forward Anthony Bennett in for an interview but no workout, as Bennett is still recovering from shoulder surgery.
With Porter’s main competition to go third overall being Bennett and Alex Len, who is also unable to work out because of a stress fracture in his ankle, Friday’s workout presents Porter the chance to let his game convince Washington that he is the better prospect.
After averaging 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in his sophomore season, Porter enters the draft as perhaps the most polished prospect. In a draft full of prospects with question marks, teams know what they are getting in Porter, a lengthy wing man whose tools suggest that he can morph his game to fit any roster.
This is why Porter’s name is being brandied about as a dark-horse to go first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This description of Porter is two-fold, though. The same “do what’s best for the team mentality” that many scouts love about him, detractors point to when distinguishing Porter from the franchise-type players who typically are selected in the top three.
Like former Hoya Jeff Green, Porter is good in many areas, but doesn’t possess an elite skill or a willingness to dominate when surrounded by other talented players.
Porter has time to change this perception of him and it can start Friday. Porter won’t magically possess LeBron James-type athleticism at Friday’s workout, but he can show improved mechanics on his awkward jump shot and show that he can go from a good to great shooter. He can squash all the talk about how he’d fit in without a hitch on Washington’s roster and instead invoke confidence that he can be the man.
Let’s be honest, Bennett and Len can’t work out and nothing they say in an interview will make them leap Porter. The onus completely falls on Porter to show Washington that while he is the ultimate team player, he can dominate.
While the draft doesn’t start until June 27, Friday’s workout may be the first domino that falls and shakes it up. Whether that be Washington dealing their pick or surprising pundits and passing on Porter, time will tell.
One thing’s certain for the local star Porter at Friday’s workout, it’s not win or go home.