Summer Sports Sermon: Otto Porter Jr. NBA draft edition

DSC_0083Ernie Grunfeld is not a popular man in Washington. Though he is not responsible for the Kwame Brown incident, (we have Michael Jordan The Manager to thank for that) the inexplicably still-employed Wizards General Manager has made many gaffes come draft time, and throughout the rest of the year.

This past season, the Wizards paid 26.5 million dollars for the combination of centers Emeka Okafor and Nene. The roster also sports the sixth pick from 2011, Jan Vesely, who averaged 2.5 points per game and 2.1 personal fouls per game this past season.

Vesely was drafted ahead of players such as Golden State’s Klay Thompson (16.6 ppg) and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (11.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg). In 2009, Grunfeld traded away the Wizard’s first round pick (fifth overall), which could have drafted Stephen Curry or Ty Lawson, among others, for veterans Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Neither contributed substantially in the following season, nor did they stay with the franchise past their first year.

Of course, Grunfeld has been able to successfully navigate the most obvious drafts, taking the consensus best player, John Wall, first in the 2010 Draft, and top prospect Bradley Beal third in 2012. The success of these players has given the Wizards a formidable young backcourt, but has not yet led to consistent wins, most likely because the rest of the roster is comprised of relative to complete no-names who garner significant minutes. (Cartier Martin?!)

Moving away from the Wizards and their blunders, Georgetown players taken in the first round in recent years have been relatively successful. Former Big East Player of the Year Jeff Green has returned from heart surgery to do things like this, and has become a focal point for the Celtics. Greg Monroe, despite playing for the irrelevant Detroit Pistons, has been a huge force (16.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg). The Hoya who has had his largest share of the spotlight recently has been Roy Hibbert, who may have passed LeBron James as the most talked-about player in the NBA during the Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals.

Hibbert is one of the young stars on the Pacers team that nearly pushed LeBron out of the playoffs, averaging a double-double over the course of the series. Alongside these accomplishments, Hibbert is the owner of one of the most entertaining twitter accounts in sports, holding open Q&A sessions for his followers as well as giving us helpful updates on the world around us. Oh, did Vox mention that he’s still destroying Syracuse?

This year, the lone departing Hoya is forward Otto Porter Jr., also of Syracuse-destroying fame, who has proven himself to be the ultimate “dependable pick.” Though Porter is not considered to be a future game-changing superstar, he is expected to be a team’s ideal role player at the small forward spot. In this relatively weak draft, Porter is projected third on most draft boards behind Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Kansas’ Ben McLemore.

Coincidentally, the Wizards, boosted by the Draft Lottery, have acquired the third pick in the upcoming draft. However, there is relative division over whether the Wizards should take Porter or UNLV forward Anthony Bennett, who has dealt with injuries recently, but is also believed to have tremendous upside potential. Being a Georgetown student, a D.C. area native, and a lifelong Wizards fan, Vox can say completely without bias that Porter would be a better pick for a Washington team that already have their star in Wall, and are slowly building a young core around him. Even with Bennett’s potential, the last thing the Wizards need is another pick that fails to produce or has an injury-plagued career.

By acquiring Porter, the Wizards can have a solid season by having productive players at the 1-3 positions and by leaning on their overpaid veteran centers. Not to mention, having Porter play his home games in the Phonebooth would help bring many more Georgetown alumni and students to Wizards games that were previously punctuated by the Chipotle Burrito Dash.

“I think he’d be a very good fit for the Wizards. … You look at the nucleus that they have, particularly with John Wall and Beal, that’s a terrific backcourt,” said John Thompson III, Georgetown head coach. “They already have a few people that play his position, but I think he would be a very good complement, very good fit, very good piece to the Wizards puzzle.”

Regardless of where he goes, Porter’s prospects for the NBA look promising, but doesn’t he just look so happy in DC? So as the draft looms in the near future, keep an eye out for the first Georgetown player to play for the Wiz since Jahidi White, the only man who has ever pulled off tube socks. Of course, knowing Grunfeld, Washington will probably end up with guard/bathrobe thief Michael Carter-Williams.

 Photo: Abigail Greene/Georgetown Voice

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