LAS VEGAS -- For the second straight game, the top draft pick playing in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League did not look the part. Otto Porter, the No. 3 overall selection by the Washington Wizards, followed up a 3-of-13, seven-point debut Saturday with a 4-of-13, eight-point performance in the Wizards' 82-69 loss to the New York Knicks.
Porter's jump shot was failing him, and he couldn't get to the basket enough to compensate. His lack of strength was on full display, even as the Wizards played him at shooting guard to try to get him against smaller defenders. While Porter contributed his usual variety of pesky help defense, smart passing and running the floor, his offense has just not been there thus far.
"It's hard to get that comfortability right now, playing different positions, trying to figure it out, trying to execute," Porter said. "It's different. Right now I'm just trying to figure out where can I play, where can I establish myself."
The Wizards have been "fishing around," in Summer League coach Don Newman's words, to figure out how exactly Porter fits in. Porter played small and power forward for Georgetown in college, but the Wizards have experimented with him at shooting guard as a way to use him coming through the maze of screens normally reserved for the off guard in their offense. His form coming off those plays has been fine, but he's had trouble finishing those moves because of his slight, 198-pound frame.
In many ways, the Summer League has been a step up for Porter. He's still learning how to play best in the more wide-open NBA game after starring for two years in Georgetown's Princeton offense. Porter is an instinctual player who functions best when everyone is moving at the same speed and there's open court to get to where he wants to go, but Summer League rosters lack those qualities because the players simply haven't shared the court together often.
"It's totally different from what I'm used to playing. It's like I'm learning all over again," Porter said. "Just the spacing of the court [is different]. You're always spaced out; there's so much pick-and-roll action. I'm just learning where to move to, when to go, when not to go."
The Wizards, however, aren't too concerned with his struggles. They know they are throwing a lot Porter's way and are taking the long view with his development. As he processes this new style, they feel that his unique gifts will soon take over.
"It's one of those situations where these guys are visiting teams, trying to figure out where they're going to go in the NBA Draft, not playing a lot of 5-on-5 basketball. This is basically his second game out, so I don't think we can be too hard on him," Newman said. "The kid's just trying to pick this up. He's with it, he understands basketball. We just have to get the confidence going."
Nevertheless, Porter knows he needs to respond to the challenge after a rough start.
"That was college," Porter admitted. "This is a step higher."
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