Washington Wizards Stick Close to Home for No. 3 Pick
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WASHINGTON — Randy Wittman went through some anxious moments before it came time for the Washington Wizards to use the third overall pick in the NBA draft.
Washington’s coach didn’t care who went first and second — as long as it wasn’t Georgetown sophomore forward Otto Porter, Jr.
And so, after Cleveland took UNLV forward Anthony Bennett and Orlando selected guard Victor Oladipo of Indiana on Thursday night, the Wizards didn’t come close to using their allotted five minutes before making their pick.
In a draft that started with a couple of surprising selections, the Wizards stayed true to form in taking Porter at No. 3.
“I was worried,” Wittman said. “I told the kid when he came here, ‘Don’t go visit anyplace else.’ You never know. You feel somebody’s going to grab him, and it could have happened. I don’t think anybody really had a great idea the order that it went, with Bennett and Oladipo going 1 and 2.”
The Wizards could have had Nerlens Noel of Kentucky, Alex Len of Maryland or just about anyone else with the third choice.
They wanted Porter. Period.
“We had our board in order, and when it was our time to pick, he was the highest rated guy on our board,” Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said. “We’re pleased to have him.”
The 6-foot-8 Porter provides the Wizards a small forward to go with a backcourt of former first-round picks John Wall and Bradley Beal. Porter led the Hoyas last season with 16.2 points and 6.8 rebounds a game.
“He has the total package,” Grunfeld said. “He has good work ethic. He’s a team player. He can do multiple things out on the floor. He can guard several positions, and he’s a young player who we think could be with us for many, many years to come. And he fits in well with what we’re trying to do as far as Bradley and John are concerned.”
The Wizards have gone five straight seasons without making the playoffs, but they believed they took a significant step toward ending that drought by adding Porter to the mix.
“From where we’re at and where we think we can be going into next year, it’s a great piece to add to this team,” Wittman said.
Porter — the Big East Player of the Year — is very familiar with the Wizards’ home floor because he played on it the past two seasons with the Hoyas.
“That’s great,” Grunfeld said. “Fans are familiar with him now, the local fans. He has a very good reputation here, and that makes all that much better. But the bottom line is he’s a good basketball player.”
The Wizards also had two picks in the second round, at 38th and 54th overall. After taking Porter, however, they were confident that the draft was already a success.
“I think we have three important positions filled,” Grunfeld said. “Otto has great size for his position at small forward, but he can play some power forward if he has to. If you want to go small, he can guard 2 guards, so he provides a lot of versatility. Otto is 20 years old. Bradley’s going to be 20 (Friday) as a matter of fact, and John is 22. So we have three very solid players we can build with moving forward.”
At least, that’s how it appeared on the surface.
“All I know it’s not an exact science, this draft,” Wittman said. “You try to do the best you can and you try to envision how a certain player is going to fit in with what you have and where you’re trying to go. That’s what we did with Otto.”
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