Shabbazz Who? Otto Porter Arrives…Posted by mlemaire on November 20th, 2012
Georgetown point guard Markel Starks may have led all scorers with 23 points and the UCLA trio of superstar freshmen — Jordan Adams, Shabazz Muhammad, and Kyle Anderson — may have offered tantalizing glimpses at their talent and potential. But when the final horn sounded on the Hoyas’ 78-70 victory over then-No. 11 UCLA, there was little doubt who the best player on the floor was. After exiting early in the team’s season opener after being hit in the head and missing the team’s second game too, Hoyas’ forward Otto Porter returned to the starting lineup and delivered a virtuoso performance that reminded his teammates and his coaching staff just how much they missed him while he was gone. There are few, if any, players in the country who have the athleticism and versatility to deliver the type of line that Porter delivered Monday night.
Eighteen points on 6-of-10 shooting, 11 rebounds, five assists, five blocks, three steals, and just two turnovers is the type of stat-stuffing usually reserved for a created player in a video game, yet Porter did that in 35 minutes of play, while helping hold a lineup full of future NBA players to just 40 percent shooting from the field and adding in two late three-pointers to ice the game for the Hoyas. At first glance, it is easy to assume that Porter will never be able to replicate that sort of performance considering it came early in the season against a young opponent still learning to play together, but we aren’t talking about about an ordinary player who had a fluke performance. We are talking about an athletic freak with a 7’1” wingspan who is poised to take a more central role for Georgetown this season.
Last season as a freshman, Porter was, at best, the fourth offensive option and he still managed to post respectable numbers (9.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG) with just a 17 percent usage rate. It is obviously fruitless to read into Porter’s usage rate thus far (22.5 percent in case anyone was wondering), given that he was barely on the court before Monday, but it doesn’t take an expert on advanced basketball metrics to see that Mikael Hopkins will not be the team’s leader in percentage of possessions for much longer and Porter’s usage rate should skyrocket this season, especially if he can continue to prove to be the adept passer he was on Monday night. He is never going to be the type of offensive player who can create his own shot at will, but he seems to have worked on improving his free-throw shooting, and that combined with his athleticism, his basketball IQ, and his motor will make it incredibly difficult for opponents to keep him from scoring in double figures.
Forget the statistics, how much fun is it for true college basketball fans to watch him play? Connecticut’s Ryan Boatright is fun to watch for his end-to-end speed and panache, but the folks who love sound, throwback, fundamental basketball should love watching Porter maneuver on both ends of the floor. Seriously though, how often does one player make such an impact in every facet of the game the way Porter did last night? Aside from two turnovers, four missed shots, and a few easily correctable defensive lapses, Porter played a flawless basketball game. The Bruins’ Anderson is the player who draws all the Magic Johnson comparisons thanks to his height, court vision and passing, but the player who played most like Magic last night was Porter.