Wizards’ Otto Porter still looking to regain his rhythm

December 13, 2013
Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) receives a pass in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Thanks for the pass, man. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In his NBA debut, Otto Porter Jr. was so overcome with nerves that he was destined to make a few blunders. In his second game, Porter didn’t make any egregious mistakes because he was rarely near the ball.

Porter was a non-factor in seven minutes on the floor in the Wizards’ 75-74 loss to the Denver Nuggets as he had one rebound and went scoreless without attempting any shots.

“It’s early,” Porter said. “Two games, still got to build my wind up, to be more prepared in the game, things like that. And just continue to learn.”

Coach Randy Wittman felt that Porter’s rough introduction to the NBA – in which he had a turnover, committed a foul and shot an air ball in his first two minutes on the court – may have contributed to some passive play the second time around.

“A little bit maybe. I could see a little hesitance on his part,” Wittman said. “But he’s going to have a lot tougher games than an air ball, foul and a travel in the course of his career, but he’s going to have to learn to play through those things.”

Although Porter wasn’t aggressively going after the ball against Denver, he wasn’t exactly shying away from it, as he called for it on several occasions. When the ball didn’t come his way, Porter admitted that he thought about yelling at someone to swing the ball his way.

“I want to so bad, but no. No,” Porter said, flashing a grin. “That’s not my job. Yell at myself more than anything.”

As he prepares for his third NBA game on Friday in Atlanta, Porter is still seeking his first points in the NBA but understands that scoring opportunities won’t come if he just sits back and waits for them.

“I know sometimes in the game, it’s tough, because the ball might not find you, but in an open court, fast break, get some good easy ones, free throw line,” Porter said. “Like a lot of people say, shooters, once you get that first taste, that first bucket, they start get going and for me that’s all that it’s about. Once I get that first bucket, the more comfortable I get. If I see it go in, it’s normal.”

Wittman wants to get Porter acclimated to the pace of the NBA but the third overall pick from Georgetown has to pick up the speed of the game on the fly. He didn’t have the benefit of a training camp or preseason after being sidelined for three months with a strained right hip flexor but has to find his way in meaningful games.

“Those are valuable things that he’s missed, so I got to figure out ways to combat that and give him a quick study of what’s ahead for him,” Wittman said. “He’s got to get comfortable. And the games are so different than down here [on the practice court]. That’s where we’ve got to get him out there, hopefully, continually, maybe more and more minutes at a time when the situations are called upon. He went 7½ minutes of continuous time [against Denver] and we did not have good success but we’re trying to win a game.”

Porter has already sought out some advice from teammate Martell Webster to figure out what he needs to do to be more effective on the floor. “He’s there for me. He’s a veteran. He’s been there. He knows,” Porter said of Webster. “I’m looking for answers. How can I help myself along the way? What can I do to be better prepared for next time?”

As a rookie, Porter isn’t quite ready to step on any toes as he navigates through some unfamiliar territory.

“It is tough to come out of nowhere and be aggressive. But it’s going to build the more games I continue to play,” Porter said. “It’s about getting the flow back and once you get that back, your teammates automatically start looking for you. But I’m going to continue to do what I do. Continue to look for my open shots. Continue to play defense.”

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