Georgetown sophomore Otto Porter Jr. and UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett don’t have remotely similar playing styles or back stories, but as Thursday’s NBA draft draws near, they find themselves at the center of the debate — both among fans and within the Wizards’ war room — about what direction team President Ernie Grunfeld should go with the third overall pick.
“I hear it all over, on Twitter, that I could come” to Washington, Bennett said in a recent telephone interview, “that it’s between me or Otto Porter.”
Other candidates could find themselves in the mix for the No. 3 pick — especially if Porter or Bennett goes sooner. But with most draft boards projecting that Cleveland and Orlando will take other options at first and second, respectively, the Wizards’ choice always seems to come down to Porter or Bennett.
Porter, a long-armed 6-foot-8 forward and Georgetown’s first first-team all-American since Allen Iverson, would appear to be an obvious choice since the 20-year-old is a local product who fills aneed as a defensive-minded, playmaking wing.
But the lure of the 20-year-old Bennett’s upside could have the Wizards looking back with regret if the 6-8 low-post presence with legitimate range can match production to his sizable potential.
“We’re going to get a solid player. We don’t know who is going to be available to us, obviously,” Grunfeld said. “But we’ve done our homework and most of our research and we feel good about the player we’re possibly going to get.”
Porter, Bennett and Kentucky center Nerlens Noel were the only top prospects to visit Verizon Center as the team made draft preparations. Porter was the only member of that group to work out for the team because Bennett is recovering from surgery on a torn left rotator cuff that will keep him sidelined until August and Noel is expected to be out until late December as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Noel has been linked to the Cavaliers as the possible No. 1 overall choice, but he understands that Cleveland could go elsewhere: Maryland center Alex Len has been rumored as the primary target in recent weeks.
“I’m concerned more about the right fit for my career and going somewhere where I can contribute and work on my game to be the best player that I can in the future,” Noel said in a recent telephone interview, adding that he still believes he should go first. “Yeah, I’m not arrogant or cocky or anything. But it would be a dream come true.”