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Otto Porter Jr. completes first preseason with impressive performance against Knicks

Otto Porter Jr. averaged 13 points in the Wizards’ eight preseason games. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
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Otto Porter Jr.’s rookie year did not include a preseason. A hip flexor injury kept the Washington Wizards’ 2013 first-round draft pick out of training camp, the preseason, and the regular season’s first 20 games. The setback was stifling. When he returned, he could not claim a spot in Randy Wittman’s rotation and he played in just 37 regular season games. Questions about the Wizards’ No. 3 overall pick immediately arose.

A year later, Porter completed the first preseason of his career with an auspicious performance at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. The second-year player dropped 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting and three steals opposite perennial all-star Carmelo Anthony, who finished with a game-high 30 points, for most of the evening.

“I’m guarding him, but at the same time I’m learning him, seeing which way he’s going to go, his moves, things like that,” Porter said of defensing Anthony. “I know I got help behind me. I definitely want to play him straight up and things like that.”

Matching up against Anthony was an early test for Porter, whom the Wizards hope can assume the role Trevor Ariza left behind as the team’s top perimeter defender. The league is stocked with elite wing scorers the 6-foot-9 Porter will match up with — from Anthony to LeBron James to Kevin Durant.

“They play my position, and it’s going to make me better, guarding guys like that,” Porter said.  “It definitely is a challenge for me — each and every night having to guard somebody like Carmelo.”

Porter’s outing Wednesday completed a strong preseason. The Georgetown product provided the versatility and defensive prowess the Wizards expected when they drafted him, but Porter was also aggressive and exuded confidence on the offensive end.

He averaged 13 points per game on 48.7 percent shooting in eight preseason game. He attacked the basket, displayed a consistent midrange jumper, and exhibited improved efficiency from beyond the three-point line. Last season, Porter was 4 of 21 (19 percent) from three. He connected on  47.1 percent of his three-point attempts this preseason — a crucial development for the Wizards, who are in need of three-point threats with Bradley Beal (wrist) and Martell Webster (back) shelved, and Ariza in Houston.

He hit 4 of 7 three-pointers Wednesday. The majority of the attempts were from the corner on passes from point guard John Wall, a common sequence for the Wizards last season.

“I was just in a position where I could be aggressive,” Porter said. “Getting kick-outs from John, coming off good screens from March [Marcin Gortat] and Nene, and I was able to find some space and knock down some shots.