Martell Webster parlayed his career season into a multi-year contract with the Washington Wizards today. Although the deal isn’t official until July 10, it is reported by multiple media outlets to be for four years, $22 million. While Webster’s signing isn’t too surprising, Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld previously stated his re-signing was a high priority which casts doubt on what Otto Porter‘s role will be in his rookie campaign.
Part of Porter’s allure to Washington was the fact that he was deemed by many as the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft. But with Webster’s signing, Porter, like most of his draft class, is destined to come off the bench next season. While Washington head coach Randy Wittman may allow Porter and Webster to battle it out for the starting nod, it isn’t logical for Washington to start Porter after shelling out such a substantial contract to Webster.
With a move to the bench, Porter would no longer appear on the list of rookie of the year candidates. Still, that isn’t to say that Porter can’t excel in a sixth man role next season. In playing with the second-unit, Porter would have a much easier transition into the league, as his deficiencies wouldn’t be exploited as much going against lesser players.
Furthermore, like he was at Georgetown, Porter would be the go-to option on a second-unit that is projected to feature Eric Maynor, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin. Aside from maybe Seraphin, none of the aforementioned are particularly skilled offensively, leaving Porter as the lone scoring option.
While I never agreed with Washington’s rationale for drafting Porter– they presumed he would form a “Big 3” with Bradley Beal and John Wall— I must commend them on easing his transition to the league by not forcing a starting-role upon him. Too often is the label NBA-ready thrown onto prospects when only an elite few are worthy of such a label. Sacramento Kings, I mean Houston Rockets, no, Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson is the perfect example of this.
As it stands, Porter is a very flawed prospect; he lacks an elite skill and is only a so-so athlete, who is nowhere near ready to start on a team with playoff aspirations. With Webster’s lengthy deal, Porter can fly under the radar and find his niche, all while avoiding the mass scrutiny that normally would accompany the third pick in the draft.