Positives: There are a lot of teams for whom Otto Porter would be a heck of a draft pick. For instance: Any team that needs a very large body who can play well out of a pick-and-pop would be well served with Porter. Any team that needs a player who scored 1.53 points per possession off the dribble in college would be well served with Porter. Any team that wants a potential game-changer defensively — a 7’1 wingspan and the ability to close out on perimeter jumpshooters — would be well served with Porter. Anybody who wants a smart basketball player with great passing instincts would be well served with Porter.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the Timberwolves are that team.
That being said, Porter is a fun prospect. He has never played AAU ball, so he was mostly unheralded before the season. But it’s pretty clear how well his game might translate to the NBA. His mid-range game is very efficient. He does most of his rebounding below the rim, and his defensive instincts are quite good, which counteracts his lack of athleticism. There are a lot of stretch-4s in the NBA at this point, but it’s not hard to imagine Porter easily fitting into that mold, given his size, wingspan and skillset.
Negatives: While many of the stretch-4s entering the league are also extremely gifted athletically (for example: Derrick Williams), Porter is neither particularly strong nor athletic. His lateral quickness makes scouts wonder what he can contribute defensively, especially as a small forward, and his 200-pound 6’8 frame will get bumped around in the NBA. He makes up for this by being a very hard worker, but he will need to add pounds of muscle to be successful at the next level.
Porter also struggles to shoot from deep range. As a small forward, he will need to expand his range to the 3-point line, and it wouldn’t hurt for him to expand it even as a power forward. That said, competent shooting is one of the easier skills to teach for NBA coaches. So while Porter would probably be a project offensively, it’s certainly possible (probable, even?) that he will get to a point where he can be effective from behind the 3-point line.
Bottom Line: Porter is a bit of an investment, since he will need to add muscle and as much athleticism as the NBA can teach. He will also need to expand his range. But Porter is still very young, and every indicator points to his motor being good enough to make him an effective player.
An effective player, mind you, who doesn’t play for Minnesota.
Timberwolves Fit: No bueno. Although Porter could become a solid small forward or stretch-4, the Wolves need neither. What they need is a good shooting guard and a back-up center, and someone who will help them win immediately. Porter fits none of those categories, particularly the latter. Minnesota is playing to keep their stars, most notably Rubio and Love. On a young team that’s a couple of years away from competing in the playoffs, Porter might make a lot of sense. But for a Wolves team that wants to make a solid playoff run as soon as possible, Porter would be a bad move.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.