When most fans got their last glimpse of Otto Porter, he shot just 5 for 17 as his No. 2 seed Georgetown team endured an upset to little-known FGCU, the school that became the darling of this year's NCAA Tournament. I'm a resident of "Dunk City" who saw FGCU's top-level athleticism in person, and that loss shouldn't be considered as much of an indictment of the Hoyas, and Porter in particular, as it seemed at the time. Indeed, Porter still managed to grab a team-high 11 rebounds, illustrating his abilities as an outsized, 6'9" small forward with a 7'1.5" wingspan.
Porter's surge from a lightly recruited high schooler to a sought-after NBA prospect has continued in the months since his college career ended. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com, Chad Ford of ESPN.com and Aran Smith of NBADraft.net all have him slotted at No. 3 in their respective rankings and mock drafts, and he appears to have an outside shot to go No. 1 overall. That's heady territory for a player who doesn't possess elite athleticism and had trouble when matched against others who do. Still, there isn't a player in this draft without a significant flaw, and the improvements Porter made this season look like they were enough to convince teams he's worth the sort of pick usually spent on someone who can make more spectacular plays.
The sophomore entered the season having scored just 9.7 points per game in 2011/12 on a Georgetown team that limited his offensive opportunities. His shots and scoring increased markedly this year, particularly after Greg Whittington, the team's second leading scorer at the time, was ruled academically ineligible in January. Porter wound up notching 16.2 PPG, much of which came as a result of his improved stroke from behind the three-point arc. He nailed 42.2% of his three-point attempts this season after hitting just 22.6% as a freshman. Porter made 1.4 three pointers a game and didn't shy away from contact, either, attempting 5.1 free throws per contest. The offense at Georgetown encouraged ball movement, allowing Porter to show off his passing abilities, and he handled the ball much better this year than last.
Porter's long arms and attentiveness make up for his athletic shortcomings on defense, and while he's skilled on that end of the floor, he's probably not an elite NBA defender. That's despite averages of 1.8 steals and 0.9 blocks per game this year, relatively impressive numbers for a small forward. Perhaps his most eye-popping number is his 7.5 rebounds per game, another stat influenced by his lengthy frame. He's skinny, weighing in at 198 pounds, so a team may give up some position inside if it wants to spot him minutes as a small-ball power forward. Yet if clubs aren't shying away from center Nerlens Noel, who's just eight pounds heavier, they won't hesitate to pick Porter.
The Cavs, who pick first overall, seem to be high on Porter, and might trade down to take him if they don't want to reach for him at No. 1. The Magic, picking second, won't be shy to collect all the assets they can, but they already have a pair of young small forwards in Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris. The Wizards, at No. 3, could take their local college star and pair him on the wing with Bradley Beal. The Bobcats took small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second pick last year, but if Porter is there at No. 4, they'd have to consider him for their talent-starved roster. The Suns need help just about everywhere, so if Porter slips to No. 5, I doubt Phoenix passes him up.
A trade involving a top-five pick is as likely this year as any, so there could be other teams in play for the David Falk client. Like nearly every top draft prospect, he's most likely destined for a rebuilding team, and without jaw-dropping natural abilities, Porter will be hard-pressed to single-handedly turn around a team's fortunes. He may be best suited for a club with patience and a long-term plan, like the Magic and Suns, rather than a team looking to turn the corner next season, as the Cavs and Wizards are.