Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic.
Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Jim McCormick, Joe Kaiser and Kyle Soppe.
Kyle Soppe: For me, it's Oladipo and I feel reasonably good about it.
It's safe to label Porter as an elite marksman at this point -- he was a top-five 3-point shooter last season and is sinking 51.7 percent of his 3-point attempts this season -- but what is his ceiling? Even a Porter truther like myself will admit that, as long as John Wall and Bradley Beal are in town, Porter will be no better than the third option in this offense.
His greater strength (his shooting) also raises a red flag for me, as I fear it will continue to distance him from the rim and thus suppress his free throw attempts and make his rebounding numbers spotty on a game-to-game basis.
Oladipo, on the other hand, is soaking up all of the usage in Indiana (his usage rate is currently in the Damian Lillard/Stephen Curry tier), and his aggression (7.0 free throws per game) makes his production floor a high one.
There have been some growing pains with Oladipo's role changing in a massive way from last season (24 turnovers against 21 assists), but he has room to grow statistically, while Porter is what he is. I'm looking for the assist-plus-rebound numbers to be similar for these two the rest of the way, so I will take Oladipo to hold more value, as I expect his scoring to be both more efficient and more consistent.
Joe Kaiser: When you watch Porter play these days, he looks like he's rounding into a star. He is scoring and shooting like never before. He's making more than 50 percent of his 3-pointers and cashing in for 2.5 3PG. He's rebounding at a career high 7.5 RPG. He's among the league leaders in steals (2.7 SPG). There is just so much to like here.
Only one problem: He also has Wall and Beal on his team, two guys who also love to shoot the ball. For that reason, we can't expect Porter to take more than 13-14 shots a game this season, so I'm siding with Oladipo as the better season-long option.
On a Pacers team that's playing up-tempo this season, Oladipo is playing less than ever before 30.9 MPG but still attempting more shots (15.7 FGA) than he has in his previous four NBA seasons. While he isn't quite the rebounder or steals threat that Porter is, Oladipo has to be more of a scorer for Indiana than Porter is in Washington, and he's a comparable 3-point shooter and a better distributor.
Jim McCormick: I entered the research portion of this query assuming I'd clearly be on Team Porter, a bias fostered by my appreciation for his elite steal rate and comfortable role as a complementary floor spacer for Washington.
Oladipo is thriving in a new spot and running actions and sets unfamiliar to foes was my initial impression; my initial macro assessment was that he must be due for some regression after a torrid start. I didn't factor in just how the Thunder suffocated Oladipo's game last year, as his usage rate of 21.4 percent was a career low. Now, he's up to an elite 30.9 percent rate with 13 percent more shots from the field per game.
While both Oladipo and Porter are shooting unsustainably well from beyond the arc, it's encouraging for the Pacers guard's career scoring surge to note he's averaging seven three throw attempts per game (up from just 2.3 last season). Essentially, the volume of opportunities Oladipo is afforded in Indiana will offset natural regression to his career mean from the field.
As for Porter, he's the elite archetype for the 3-and-D era; a super-charged Trevor Ariza if you will. He's not experiencing a sizable surge in usage or opportunity, but instead is proving last season's awesome blend of shooting and steals were indeed part of a rewarding career arc. It's entirely reasonable to expect Porter to lead the NBA in steals.
I exited my research session feeling really good about both players, and think both could very well return third-round value this season. Sorting by averages on the Player Rater, we find Porter 12th overall and Oladipo 14th, and I do think their value for the rest of the season is nearly this close.
Given his rising usage and free throw rates support his breakout, and with some more appeal in assists than Porter, I'd actually take Oladipo the rest of the way. Just like their close perch on the Player Rater, these are two very valuable and closely valued fantasy stars.