The offseason, preferably free agency, is a time when teams do whatever they can to improve the roster. From resigning players to adding on pieces, both teams and players look to revamp and reload for the next season. Then you have situations where you have to decided how much a player is worth in correlation to how they help you win. Enter Otto Porter Jr. and the Washington Wizards.
Last year, Porter had his best year in almost every statistical category. He saw a career high in scoring, steals, rebounds, and 3-point percentage. Porter was top five in the league in shooting from beyond the arch at 43 percent and offensively was a lethal catch-and-shoot player. His length makes him an “acceptable” defender and he was a key piece to Washington’s offensive game plan. But does that make him a max contract player?
Keep in mind, last year was Porter’s fourth season. In those four years (even with John Wall and Bradley Beal), Porter has ranked in the bottom percentage of the league in win shares and plus-minus ratio. Porter has a hard time, even now, to create his own shot and if his three pointer is not failing, he does not give you much else offensively. Even in the years where Beal missed most the season with injury, Porter’s offensive production did not rise. Most importantly, Porter’s game shrinks in the playoffs. While his rebounds and assists rise ever so slightly, his shooting percentage takes a drastic dip.
This brings up the question, What qualifies as a “max player?” Here is a small list of current players with max contracts: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, John Wall (was offered the supermax this offseason), Bradley Beal, Mike Conly, Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis, and Damion Lillard.
Other than Barnes and Beal, what do all these players have in common? Not only are they all All-Stars, every single one of these players (besides Barnes of course) stats increase in the playoffs (yes, even triple double machine Westbrook.) A max player is seen as not only a dependable player, but they are expected to carry a team. Even when you look at Beal and his role on the Wizards and you’d understand why he was maxed out. Beal is one of the best shooters in the NBA and arguably a top guard in general. The same can not be said for Porter.
Because he was drafted by Washington, the team owns Porter’s bird rights (which means they can go over the cap to match whatever offer another team gives.) But that would mean Washington would have three maxed players(!), two of which are not even All-Stars. While Beal is clearly on the rise in NBA ranks at his position, can the same really be said for Porter?
Then the question comes up, Where would Washington be if they lose him? The answer to that question is actually another question. What was Washington with him?
Washington has one of the longest conference finals droughts in the entire NBA (has not made it since 1978.) With Porter, Washington still sit behind teams like Boston (who got better getting Gordon Hayward), Cleveland, Toronto and arguably Milwaukee. Yes, the Wizards signed Mike Scott and Tim Fraizer, which will help their dire bench problems, but they are not close to enough to volt the Wizards over the teams perviously stated.
Not paying Porter will make room for other players in free agency that could by collection, equal the productivity Porter comes with. And even if they can not get someone like a Carmelo Anthony (cough cough) or a Jamal Crawford once he is bought out by Atlanta this year, by not signing Porter would give you more money for next years free agency, which sees players like Paul Gerorge, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant hit the market. If they do not max out Porter, and send Bojan Bogdanovic packing, they will have more money next free agency to go after a big name (something Washington has not been able to catch in free agency in recent memory.)
Losing Porter will almost ensure that Washington will continue their conference finals drought for next season (which might already be the case with him). Players like Kelly Oubre Jr would be thrusted into the starting line-up which could help his growth playing alongside Wall and Beal more.
If Washington signs Porter to the max, they are banking on Porter duplicating or surpassing his production from this season. With Porter accepting Brooklyn’s 4 year, 106 million dollar offer, Washington has a week to match or he walks.
So above all the question still remains, Is Otto Porter Jr. a max player?