Wizards’ Otto Porter draws praise from Georgetown Coach John Thompson III


Thanks for the kind words, Coach. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

John Thompson III has produced four top 20 draft picks in his nine seasons at Georgetown, and Otto Porter Jr. is not only the latest but also holds the distinction as the highest draft pick of the Hilltop quartet.

Roy Hibbert, the 17th pick in 2008, has already become an all-star. Greg Monroe, the seventh pick in 2010, has shown flashes of potential. And Jeff Green, the fifth pick in 2007, is now one of the focal points of the new-look Celtics. Porter, the No. 3 pick in last month’s NBA draft, has had a little more than a week to digest being a member of the Wizards, and his journey will begin on Monday afternoon when the team hosts summer league minicamp at Verizon Center.

Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Glen Rice Jr. will also get high billing for the Wizards’ summer league outfit this weekend in Las Vegas, but Porter will attract the most attention given his draft position and local ties. At Porter’s introductory news conference, Coach Randy Wittman patted the rookie on the back and expressed his desire to soon get to work with him.

As Porter makes the transition from college to the NBA, Thompson is in the camp that believes Porter won’t have much trouble. Thompson said Porter, like Hibbert, has a “willingness to learn and willingness to listen and willingness to be coached” that will help him at the next level.

“I think he can be in many situations and have success, whether it’s on the perimeter, on the wing, on the post, with the ball in his hands, moving without the ball,” Thompson said. “A lot of people talk about versatility. Versatility is a word that is thrown around as it relates to Otto and most people think just about the offensive end. I think he’s someone that is going to be versatile and can guard multiple positions at the defensive end. As time goes on, as he gets stronger — that will happen with age — that will increase even more, who he can defend. Whatever coach wants him to do I think he’ll be able to help and contribute from day one.”

Aside from his versatility, Porter’s desire to do the right thing helps set him aside, Thompson said. “He doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He understands the notion of each year you have to improve and he’s does that.”

The lanky, 6-foot-8 Porter has drawn comparisons to Memphis Grizzlies forward Tayshaun Prince and he initially stated that the two players have similar skill sets. But Thompson believes Porter’s game is more similar to another NBA player.

“I think the Paul George comparisons are much more accurate than Tayshaun,” he said. “Just in looking at his complete versatility, he can start the offense, he can finish it, he can be a facilitator. Otto’s versatile at both ends of the court, not just on the offensive end. He can guard multiple positions.”

Before the draft, Porter was considered by many NBA executives and draft analysts who felt the 20-year-old Porter was a safe pick who lacked the upside of many of the other players taken high in the lottery. Thompson chuckled at the assessment, because it is one that he has heard far too often regarding his players.

“If you go back — I think I’m right about this — but you probably heard the same things about Jeff compared to people in his draft class. You definitely heard it about Greg compared to people in his draft class. Roy – compared to people in his draft class – and look at what they’re doing,” Thompson said. “Upside, we’ll see … I’ll stay behind and look two, three, four years from now and see what type of career he’s having. That’s not say the other guys aren’t going to have very good careers also, but we’ll see what type of career he’s going to have.”

Thompson is also confident that Porter could be the “missing piece” for promising young team that already features the talents of Bradley Beal and John Wall. “I think it’s a great fit, coming in there with Beal and Wall and Coach Wittman,” Thompson said. “Obviously Ted Leonsis is a Georgetown grad. So him staying here I think the transition will be easier for him because the normal process that everyone goes through, moving, getting adjusted to a new city … he’s settled in. There is an adjustment period. But I think he’ll be fine.”

MORE ON OTTO PORTER JR. FROM THE POST

– Jason Reid: With Porter, Wizards have the tools to get things fixed.

– Bog: Porter had the best sports week in Washington.

Porter to make Wizards debut in Las Vegas.

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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