1. Otto Porter Searching For His Game In Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- What's the deal with Otto Porter? Or rather, what is Otto Porter? That's what the Washington Wizards are trying to find out. What they've discovered so far: The third overall pick has a long way to go, and he needs to become more forceful, quickly.
To say that the highest draft pick playing in Las Vegas has underwhelmed in his first two summer league contests might be an understatement. He has gone a combined 7-for-26 from the floor (27 percent), 0-for-5 from the 3-point line, and has attempted only three free throws in his 59 minutes of action, missing two.
The main culprits have been a lack of assertiveness (Porter tends to get lost in the corners); weakness with the ball (you see Kent Bazemore rip the ball from his mitts in the first game?); and a misaligned jumper. If the Wizards partially drafted Porter to add to the shooters in John Wall's cadre, they now need to find him some range.
According to Porter, his main issue is where to be on the floor. "Just the spacing of the court," he said. "You're always spaced out, pick-and-roll action. I'm just learning where to move to, where to go and not to go."
Still, the question at hand: Should Wizards fans be nervous?
Don't be silly, it's been only two games in summer league. Part of the context to consider is that the Wizards are experimenting with Porter, and where better to do that than Sin City? Coming from an uber-structured system at Georgetown, he needs to cleanse his system and adapt to the pro game. That will be a "process," as goes the oft-used term by NBA GMs.
The Wizards have started Porter at the 2-guard for both contests, and for the most part, have interchanged him and second-round pick Glen Rice Jr. at the position. However, the late-game pattern has been to bump Porter to 3 and play him some alongside Rice. Washington's coaching staff is also tinkering with having Porter bring the ball up the court after snagging a defensive board.
Sometimes they run Porter off multiple curl screens to get him midrange looks from the top of the paint (similar to plays run for Bradley Beal), sometimes they have him patrolling the corners as a court-spreading decoy. Ultimately, Porter will reap the benefits of playing next to an established post player like Nene Hilario, who has the dump-off pass to cutters from the wings and corners down to a science. Playing with a pass-first point guard such as Wall won't hurt, either.
"We're just kind of fishing around right now, seeing where he's comfortable, whether it's the 2, it's the 3. He can go a lot of positions," said Don Newman, the Wizards' co-head summer league coach. "We just want him to get comfortable and play and see what kind of player he is."
Worth noting that in Washington's offense, the 2 and 3 are interchangeable parts.
"They put me everywhere, so it's hard to get comfortability. I'm just trying to figure out where can I play, where can I establish myself at playing ball," admitted the reserved Porter after his second game. "It's totally different from what I'm used to doing, so it's like I'm learning all over again."
Porter was the safe pick for a Wizards franchise thirsty for security and maturity after the tumultuous times of Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee. He was drafted to be a facilitating catch-all who will limit mistakes and facilitate the unfamiliar culture of team basketball in Washington. Porter might be quiet, but he doesn't fall asleep; he's very aware of his surroundings.
But that awareness needs to translate to comfort, and that comfort needs to grow into aggressiveness. The Wizards love Porter's basketball selflessness, but from 30,000 feet, he must become the third amigo in the offense next to Wall and Beal.
"He's gotta find his own offense sometimes," said Sam Cassell, Washington's other co-head coach after Saturday's first game. "I can run things for him, get him some shots. But suppose they take it away, now what? That's the thing that he's gotta figure out, and he'll figure it out. He did it at Georgetown, he'll do it here."
Bradley Beal faced similar issues as a 2012 summer leaguer and didn't find his comfort zone until he got two months of real NBA action under his belt. In a city where time gets lost, boiling down the context to sunrise, or sundown, Porter will get more opportunities to figure out who he is -- no need to sunset his potential just yet. One thing is for sure: The lessons Porter learns in Vegas won't stay in Vegas.
Kyle Weidie writes about the Wizards for TrueHoop's Truth About It. Follow him @Truth_About_It
2. The Bobcats: What We See Is What We Get
Las Vegas Summer League is where legends are prematurely anointed and where disappointments are buried even quicker. The sample of games the players play may not correlate to actual successes or failures in the actual league, but rendering snapshot judgments is fun, even irresistible.
There's a glaring problem there, though: Roster construction and team role are always starkly different from what appears on opening night of the NBA season. Summer league is an invaluable event to measure a player's ability to learn and adjust on the fly, but rarely is it painted with such subtle strokes.
For the Charlotte Bobcats, the distinction between July and October is rather fine. The Bobcats' summer league squad might be as close as it gets to the real thing. Down the stretch of their 86-80 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, the Bobcats had four key rotation players (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Jeff Taylor, and Bismack Biyombo) in the game. This is highly unusual for a summer league team, which is generally composed of a single first-rounder, maybe a returning second-year player and a supporting cast recruited from the D-League and Europe. The team's newly appointed head coach, Steve Clifford, was at the controls -- also unusual, as most teams assign the task of coaching summer league to an assistant.
Danny Chau writes for the TrueHoop Network and Grantland. Follow him@dannychau
3. Waiters Could Make Sense In Sixth-Man Role
LAS VEGAS -- When the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Dion Waiters with the fourth pick in the 2012 draft, they did so knowing they already had a franchise cornerstone in place with Kyrie Irving. Any player coming in would be a complement to Irving -- a second star instead of a first star.
It didn't quite work out as swimmingly as planned, mainly because Waiters didn't acclimate to a supporting role as a starting shooting guard. Instead, he was primarily a ball-dominant guard searching for his own shot, playing next to a guy doing the exact same thing.
For a team with both sudden and serious playoff aspirations after an exciting offseason, at what point does fit begin to take precedence over development?
It may still be far too early to write the book on him, but Waiters certainly seems to fit the profile of your classic sixth man. His usage rate, shot selection and percentages all fall in line with the career averages of guys such as Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry and J.R. Smith -- players who have come to symbolize the role.
Of course, each of those three players also started off their pro careers as starters. Will Waiters follow a similar path and fall into a bench role much further down the line? Or will the time come when the Cavs pull the plug on the Waiters/Irving starting backcourt to find a better match for their star point guard?
The offseason signing of Jarrett Jack, the scoring sixth man for the Golden State Warriors last season, seems to indicate that the time for plug pulling is not now. With that in mind, it has become increasingly difficult to evaluate Waiters through a lens that doesn't heavily factor in his fit next to Irving.
Because Chris Quinn is no Irving, a second straight game of inefficient shooting from Waiters doesn't mean much. But if Cleveland's fortune changes from cellar dweller to playoff contender this year, and every game and every possession begins to really matter? Some sacrifices might have to be made -- one way or another.
D.J. Foster writes for ClipperBlog of the TrueHoop Network. Follow him on Twitter @fosterdj
4. First Look: Dennis Schroder
Through two games in Las Vegas, Dennis Schroder has done nothing to dismiss comparisons to Rajon Rondo. Like Rondo, Schroder's exceptional quickness enables him to penetrate on offense and pressure opposing ballhandlers. He used good footwork to hound Miami guard Anthony Marshall all night Sunday, forcing eight turnovers, and handed out eight assists. The Rondo similarity extends to Schroder's weaknesses. He missed both perimeter attempts -- one was wide right by at least a foot -- and he'll have to make the simple pass rather than forcing the issue and turning the ball over, as he did three times.
Kevin Pelton is an NBA Insider for ESPN.com.
5. NBA Video Channel
6. Sunday's Best
Cody Zeller, Bobcats: The buzz around the youngest Zeller brother heading into the draft was his ability to stretch the floor from the 4-spot, but he showed some old-school authority on the blocks in his second summer-league game. Dunks, up-fakes, and-1s, blocks -- Zeller looked like a regular Larry Johnson in totaling 21 points (6-for-12; 9-for-9 FT) and 13 rebounds, 11 of which came on the defensive glass.
7. Sunday's Worst
Josh Selby, Lakers: The reigning co-MVP of Las Vegas Summer League lost the touch that tore up the competition last year. Selby, once a top recruit, thrives off his natural scoring ability, but it was nowhere in sight in reserve duty for the Lakers. He finished with four points (1-for-7), three rebounds, one assist and three turnovers.• Vegas Summer League: Schedule/Results
8. Zeller Doing Work
9. Tweet Of The Night
10. Quote Of The Night
"I like his skill sets a lot. I think a lot of teams have liked his skill sets over the years. He does a little bit of everything."
-- New York coach Mike Woodson, on the merits of free agent Metta World Peace, who has been in contact with the Knicks.