Once the acquisition of Otto Porter Jr. was made official, the one skill of his that first came to most people’s minds was his outstanding three-point shooting.
Stephen Curry needed lots of spacing relief, and the Golden State Warriors acquired someone who provides plenty of it. A career 40.2% shooter from beyond the arc is exactly what the doctor ordered — and Porter, who is shooting 40.0% on threes on four attempts per game this season, is delivering.
Porter shot 3-of-7 on threes against the Phoenix Suns — all of them crucial. The majority of his three-pointers have been of the catch-and-shoot variety (59.1% of his threes), and he is successfully knocking them down at a rate of 38.5%. His value as a floor spacer is undeniable, especially with Curry drawing plenty of attention around ball screens.
Case in point:
Curry runs around double drag screens and draws a double off the second screen, after which he passes out to Nemanja Bjelica. JaVale McGee is slightly late to recover toward Bjelica — which compels Cam Johnson on the weak side to pre-rotate toward the paint, in order to help on a potential Bjelica drive.
That serves as the trigger for Bjelica to laser a skip pass toward Porter on the weak side. And Porter — as expected of him — drills the go-ahead three.
Porter has served as a capable stretch four whenever the Warriors go small to close out games. With Draymond Green as his frontcourt partner, lineups with Porter at the four are shooting 38.8% on threes, while outscoring opponents by 7.3 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning The Glass.
Porter’s size and versatility as a 6’8” wing-turned-big has allowed him to wear many hats: as a switchable asset on defense; and as a screener and spacer on offense, where the effectiveness of opposing bigs guarding him wanes the farther out they are from the paint.
The Warriors have used Porter as a misdirection tool plenty of times this season — including against the Suns.
Mikal Bridges’ stick-to-Curry-at-all-costs mindset costs him on the possession above. With Porter setting the screen, Bridges is about to go over it to stay glued to Curry, but with Chris Paul preparing to intercept Curry, Bridges realizes that he should be switching onto Porter, who has a head start on Bridges and breaks loose for a three, with help from Kevon Looney’s down screen.
While pull-up threes around ball screens isn’t part of his usual modus operandi, Porter can — in a pinch — self-create shots with the ball in his hands. Porter has only 10 pull-up shot attempts from beyond the arc this season, but he has drilled six of them.
One of them was on this side pick-and-roll with Looney:
But to categorize and pigeonhole Porter as a shooter is to shortchange the value he provides in other areas. Peek at his per-36 metrics, and you will see that he averages 6.8 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career. He’s putting up 8.8 rebounds per 36 minutes this season, including 1.4 offensive rebounds.
Porter’s hustle, tenacity, and nose for the ball have greatly impacted the Warriors. Despite not having any active player taller than 6’10” on the roster, they are near the top of the league in terms of several rebounding metrics: second in total rebound percentage (52.3%), second in defensive rebound percentage (74.7%), and 10th in offensive rebound percentage (28.0%).
Rebounding your own misses and scoring off of them is an efficient form of offense. It forces opponents to scramble haphazardly and reorganize their defense quickly; a team can take advantage of such chaos by quickly attacking a non-set defense. Porter’s knack for crashing the offensive boards has caught several defenses off guard, and the likes of Curry — who thrives within chaos — have taken advantage.
Occasionally, Porter can power through smaller players on his way to an offensive board, especially if an opponent’s rebounding big is straying too far away from the paint because of a trap or blitz on Curry. Porter becomes a virtual big man himself against a small backline defense.
With both Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder — the Suns’ five and four, respectively — drawn out on the perimeter toward Curry in the possession below, Porter easily crashes the board against the smaller Devin Booker, with the diminutive Paul splitting the difference on the weak side.
Porter finished with 19 points on 13 shots, 5-of-6 (83.3%) on twos, 3-of-7 (42.9%) on threes, 73.1% True Shooting, and 6 rebounds against the Suns. On a team with a depleted guard/wing corps, Porter was exemplary of the Warriors’ exceptional depth and next-man-up ethos.
“We had two of our starters out,” Porter said after the game. “It was another opportunity for everybody to step up and contribute, especially on a game like this. Everybody who came off the bench did an amazing job, and we’re gonna continue to need them.”
The one question mark surrounding Porter’s acquisition was health. An extensive injury history placed doubts about his ability to stay on the floor and contribute meaningful minutes. Porter has played in 28 out of 33 games, with the games he has missed being rest days that a veteran of his injury history was afforded.
Porter has looked spry and lively — and that has translated to him being able to show everyone his full value as a role player.
“Being hurt the last couple of years, I didn’t really get a chance to showcase what I can do in different situations,” Porter said. “Coming here, I just knew I had a great opportunity. Once I continued to get my body right, and once I got to Golden State, I saw another big opportunity, with my size and versatility, to help these guys out.”