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Wizards keep Porter in the fold, solidifying core in D.C.

July 13, 2017
Otto Porter's Season Highlights |  Photo Gallery

Otto Porter was a popular pick for a breakout season in 2016-17, and the former No. 3 overall pick delivered in a bounce-back year for the Wizards. Washington needed more on the wings after a tough season in 2015-16, and the Georgetown product came through with a slew of career-high averages. Now, Porter will be sticking around for the foreseeable future after the Wizards announced Thursday that they've matched the Nets' offer sheet for the veteran forward. 

“Otto has developed into an important part of our young core, which is why we made it clear that our priority was to keep him here to maintain continuity and build on the success of this group heading into next season and beyond,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “His versatility, basketball IQ and three-point shooting combine to make him a great fit for us on the floor while his character and work in the community show why we’re so pleased to have him as a cornerstone of our franchise.”

His career-high 13.4 points per game last season marked a near two-point improvement over the previous year, while his career-highs in 3-point percentage (43.4%) and field goal percentage (51.6%) marked at least four-point jumps from 2015-16. Porter’s 3-point proficiency led the NBA for much of the season, and his 43.4 percent finished fourth in the league for the regular season. For more perspective, he was just the sixth player in NBA history to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line in their fourth NBA season.

In the big picture, Porter provided an elite outside threat that spread the floor nicely for the Wizards and became another bonafide weapon for passing maestro John Wall to turn to. And when Porter was getting consistent looks from deep, the Wizards were tough to beat. In games where the fourth-year pro hit three or more from beyond the arc, Washington went 17-4. That record included another career-best performance from Porter in November when his 34 points led the Wizards to a 118-93 blowout of the Celtics in D.C. 

While Porter’s skyrocketing efficiency from beyond the 3-point arc may have been the most notable jump of the season, it’s important to note that his well-rounded game shined in 2016-17 as well. He had 12 of his 17 career double-doubles this season, all coming thanks to antoher career-high: his 6.4 rebounds per game. Of course, his mid-range game was still a major strength, with his mid-range shooting percentage ranking fifth in the league among players who attempted two or more such shots per game. 

Perhaps what’s most intriguing is that at age 23 (turning 24 in June), Porter still has plenty of time and room to grow as a key contributor for a playoff team. After all, he's grown considerably in each of his four NBA seasons, something that can't be taken for granted. Porter's growth is in fact rare, as he and Blazers guard C.J. McCollum are the only two players in the league to have their field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, scoring and rebounding averages improve each year since the start of the 2013-14 season (both players' rookie seasons). 

This past season was really the first full year in which the basketball world started to pay attention to Porter as a legitimate scoring threat for the Wizards. He established himself as one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, blossomed as a rebounder and maintained a mid-range game that's as smooth as it gets (and even slightly improved from 2015-16 statistically).

The postseason wasn't as friendly in 2016-17 as his shooting and scoring numbers dipped, but Porter has already shown the type of difference maker he can be in big games (see 2014-15). It's also important to note that this season was the first in which the fourth-year pro was a key known scoring threat from all over the floor. Teams made a concerted effort to limit his comfort level on the offensive end, something that made things difficult this season but also is a sign of progress.

With the offseason now upon the Wizards after a successful return to the playoffs in 2016-17, Porter will head into next year as a known plus rebounder and shooter for his position that teams will have to include in the gameplan. But at just age 24 entering next season, we still don't know what exactly his true ceiling could be. If his season-by-season growth is any indication, the best is still on the way.