Connect with us


NBA PM: Wizards’ Porter Ready to Contribute

After a disappointing rookie season, Wizards small forward Otto Porter is determined to bounce back and contribute.

Alex Kennedy



Wizards’ Porter Ready to Make an Impact

Expectations were high for Otto Porter when he entered the NBA last season after being selected with the third overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards. After a successful two-year collegiate career at Georgetown, Porter was seen as the Wizards’ long-term solution at small forward. At last year’s media day, Porter was posing alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal in pictures and it seemed like Washington had a trio of potential stars to serve as the cornerstones of their franchise moving forward.

However, Porter’s rookie season didn’t go as planned. He suffered a hip injury and hamstring injury, and he didn’t make his professional debut until December. Then, once he did get on the court, he was limited physically and behind the curve since he missed summer league and training camp. His transition to the NBA was rough, and he ultimately played in just 37 games while averaging 2.1 points and 1.5 rebounds.

Now, Porter is determined to bounce back and have a much more successful sophomore campaign. This was the first offseason in which he was able to work out and play in summer league, which is always important for young players. During summer league Porter was impressive, averaging 19 points and 5.8 rebounds. He was often Washington’s best player on the floor, and he scored 25 or more points in two of the six games.

“I’m thankful to be playing at 100 percent and getting better,” Porter said. “I’m trying to play hard each and every time I step onto the court and hopefully everything else will take care of itself.”

Porter has also been very effective in Washington’s preseason games. Through six games, Porter has averaged 11.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals. He looks much better than he did last season, and it seems like he could actually emerge as a contributor for Washington this year. Last week, in the Wizards’ exhibition game against Maccabi Haifa, Porter totaled 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block. Porter played the most minutes of anyone on the team and was Washington’s leading scorer.

Porter’s teammates have been impressed with his growth as a player. It’s easy to forget that Porter is just 21 years old so he still has a lot of room to grow and it’s far too early to write him off as an NBA player.

“He’s day and night,” Kevin Seraphin said of Porter’s improvement. “I told him that yesterday. I’m proud of him. He’s really stepped up. He has more responsibility this season. He’s really stepped up right now. He’s more confident in everything. I love his game.”

His teammates have also noticed that he’s much stronger this season. That’s because Porter spent much of the summer with the team’s strength and conditioning staff, determined to bulk up and get stronger.

With Trevor Ariza leaving Washington this past summer via free agency, Porter could be called upon sooner than later to be the answer at small forward. Over the offseason, the Wizards signed Paul Pierce to a two-year deal (with a player option in year two), but he’s clearly just a short-term fix rather than a long-term solution since this very well could be the 37-year-old’s final contract.

Porter knows that he must continue to improve so that he’s ready when it’s time for his role to expand.

“Each game I try and improve on something,” Porter said. “It’s a process. Each game I continue to try and attack and find my shots and take them. It’s something I look to do each game.”

Head coach Randy Wittman has also experimented with Porter at shooting guard. With Beal sidelined for the near future due to a broken wrist, Porter could help fill the hole at two-guard if he’s able to successfully transition to the new position. Porter has been spending time at two-guard during practices and reports have indicated that he may start a game at shooting guard at some point.

Regardless of what position he’s playing, it seems that Porter could have a much bigger impact this season than he did last year in Washington. Now that he’s at full strength and no longer playing catch up, Porter is ready to show what he can do and finally start living up to the lofty expectations that were set for him when his name was called third overall.

Caldwell-Pope May Be Poised for Breakout Year

Detroit Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope seems poised for a breakout sophomore campaign. After averaging 5.9 points per game during the 2013-14 season, his production should increase under new head coach Stan Van Gundy, who has been very impressed with the 21-year-old.

“I think he’s playing really well, he plays really hard all the time,” Van Gundy said of Caldwell-Pope. “He wants to get better. He’s a very committed guy and you know we have them, in our work and in our lives, guys you see and they kick up your own energy. He’s like that for our coaching staff. You walk in the gym and he’s upbeat and ready to go. He works hard, he brings an energy every day. Those are the guys you want in your organization and build good teams around.”

Caldwell-Pope turned heads during the Orlando Summer League, when he averaged a tournament-high 24 points per game along with 7.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals. His most impressive outing was a 30-point, 12-rebound performance against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Then, in Detroit’s first two preseason games, Caldwell-Pope continued to play well. He averaged 19 points and shot 54.2 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three-point range.

“I’m very comfortable,” Caldwell-Pope said. “My first year was just kind of up and down, which is what rookies go through, but I just feel more comfortable with my game now. My confidence was always up, but now I’m just to the level that I’m feeling more comfortable playing and shooting.”

In the third preseason game, Caldwell-Pope had totaled 12 points when he went down with a knee strain. He has missed all of Detroit’s preseason games since suffering the injury, but he’s expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

He should see big minutes with Jodie Meeks sidelined for two months due to a stress reaction in his lower back and Will Bynum recently traded to the Boston Celtics. Caldwell-Pope spent the offseason working on his ball-handling and becoming more consistent, so he feels he’s ready for an expanded role if his number is called.

“Every day, we’re just going to compete,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We’re all looking for spots and minutes; we’re just going to compete. Whatever happens, happens. We just have to continue to work together as a team.”

Caldwell-Pope likes the makeup of the team and how the group has come together, and he is determined to do whatever he can to help Detroit improve on last year’s 29-53 record.

“If you look up and down [the roster] we’ve got good players, good teammates,” Caldwell-Pope said. “It’s all good in the locker room, and now we’re just coming together and just building chemistry. I’m just all about the team, man. It’s all about coming together and getting wins.”

Caldwell-Pope has enjoyed playing for Van Gundy and likes the head coach’s style of play.

“It’s great,” Caldwell-Pope said of Van Gundy’s system. “I mean, the way he’s spacing the floor and the offense we’re running, you get wide open shots and you just have to knock it down. … He’s brought a lot. He’s made some good changes.”

Many Pistons fans are excited to watch the development of the second-year shooting guard who seems to have a high ceiling, but he’s focused on the present rather than worrying about his potential.

“I’m really not worrying about if I can be an All-Star or not,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I mean, if I do [eventually become an All-Star], that’s great, but I’m just trying to continue with my career and keep playing because I love to play.”

This could be a huge season for Caldwell-Pope; don’t be surprised if he becomes an important contributor for the Pistons very soon.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: And-Ones: Thunder, Raptors, D-League | - Get OU Sooners, OSU Cowboys and Oklahoma High School Sports News!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


NBA Daily: Rich Cho Out As Charlotte Hornets GM

The Charlotte Hornets opted to not move forward with GM Rich Cho and are expected to pursue former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak.

Buddy Grizzard



The fateful moment for Rich Cho came days after he was hired as GM of the Charlotte Hornets in June of 2011. With the NBA Draft coming up just nine days later, Cho started work on a three-team trade that would land Charlotte a second top-10 pick to pair with its own ninth pick, which was used to draft franchise cornerstone, Kemba Walker.

In that draft, Klay Thompson went 11th to the Golden State Warriors and Kawhi Leonard went 15th to the Pacers. Of the 17 players selected after Bismack Biyombo, whom went to the Hornets with the seventh pick, 12 are regular contributors on current NBA rosters. The Orlando Magic are currently being outscored by 11.6 points per 100 possessions with Biyombo on court, a rotation-worst.

Today, Hornets owner Michael Jordan announced that Cho is out as Charlotte’s GM.

“Rich worked tirelessly on behalf of our team and instituted a number of management tools that have benefited our organization,” said Jordan in a press release. “We are deeply committed to our fans and to the city of Charlotte to provide a consistent winner on the court. The search will now begin for our next head of basketball operations who will help us achieve that goal.”

While the failure to obtain Thompson, Leonard or any of the other numerous impact players in the 2011 draft will always mar Cho’s record, falling to the second pick in the 2012 NBA Draft will continue to haunt the Hornets. Despite a brutal 7-59 record in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, which set the record for lowest win percentage in an NBA season (.110), the New Orleans Pelicans won the right to the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and selected Anthony Davis.

The Hornets selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second pick. Although the 2012 Draft wasn’t nearly as deep as 2011’s, the Hornets still left players like Bradley Beal (third) and Andre Drummond (ninth) on the board. Either player would have been an outstanding compliment to Walker, who remains with the team despite rumors of his availability leading up the the trade deadline.

“I feel like I’m going to be in Charlotte,” said Walker at his All-Star media availability. “So that’s where I’m at, that’s where I’m playing. So I never really sat and thought about any other teams.”

Walker made his second All-Star appearance after Kristaps Porzingis suffered a season-ending ACL injury.

“I wish K.P. hadn’t gotten hurt,” said Walker. “Everybody hates to see guys go down, especially great players like him. But when I was able to get the call to replace him, it was a really good feeling.”

Another fateful moment in Cho’s tenure came during the 2015 NBA Draft. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Boston Celtics offered the 15th and 16th picks, a future protected first rounder from the Brooklyn Nets and a future first from either the Grizzlies or Timberwolves in exchange for the ninth pick, which Cho used to draft Frank Kaminsky.

“If it was such a no-brainer for us, why would another team want to do it,” Cho asked rhetorically in defense of the Kaminsky selection, according to Lowe.

Years later, it’s evident that the Celtics dodged a bullet when both Charlotte and the Miami HEAT rebuffed its attempts to move up and draft Justise Winslow. The latter has not panned out while Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the players Boston subsequently selected with Brooklyn’s picks, have developed into starters.

Chris Mannix of Yahoo! Sports reported in the first week of February that Charlotte may target former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak for a high-ranking role in the organization with Cho’s contract set to expire. Kupchak, like Jordan, is a former UNC star. Kupchak would join Jordan’s UNC teammate and Charlotte assistant GM Buzz Peterson.

Continue Reading


The G-League is a Path Back to the NBA

The G-League has become an avenue for several player types toward the NBA, writes David Yapkowitz.

David Yapkowitz



When the NBA first instituted their development league, its main purpose was two-fold. The first was to give experience to young players who perhaps were not seeing regular playing time on their respective NBA teams. The second was to give undrafted players a chance at getting exposure and ultimately getting to the NBA.

With the growth in size and popularity of the development league, now known as the G-League, it’s begun to serve another purpose. It’s become a place for older veterans who have already tasted the NBA life to get back to the highest level of basketball that they once knew.

One player in particular who has a wealth of NBA experience is Terrence Jones. Jones is currently playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the G-League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors.

Jones was originally drafted by the Houston Rockets with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft. He was part of a vaunted class of Kentucky Wildcats that year, which included Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, and Darius Miller. During his four years with the Rockets, he emerged as a dependable reserve and part-time starter. He averaged 9.5 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting and 5.3 rebounds.

“It was just a lot of excitement and a lot of joy, being part of the Houston Rockets was a lot of fun,” Jones told Basketball Insiders. “We had great memories and great seasons, a lot of up and downs, I just enjoyed the journey.”

Jones’ dealt with injuries his last two season in Houston, and when he was a free agent in the summer of 2016, the Rockets didn’t re-sign him. He was scooped by the New Orleans Pelicans, however, and he made an immediate impact for them. Prior to the trade deadline, he played in 51 games for the Pelicans, including 12 starts while putting up 11.5 points on 47.2 percent shooting, and 5.9 rebounds.

When the Pelicans acquired DeMarcus Cousins, however, they cut Jones. He didn’t stay unemployed for long, though, as he was signed by the Milwaukee Bucks to add depth for a playoff run. He was unable to crack the rotation, though, and the Bucks cut him as well before the playoff started. After a brief stint in China, he’s now back stateside and using the G-League to get back to the NBA.

“That’s the goal. Right now, I feel I’ve been playing pretty well and just trying to help my team get wins,” Jones told Basketball Insiders. “I think I can play multiple positions offensively and defensively. Whether that’s creating plays for myself or for others, I think I can help contribute on the offensive end.”

He’s been the second-leading scorer for Santa Cruz with 19.9 points per game. He’s pulling down 7.1 rebounds, and even dishing out 4.5 assists. In the G-League Challenge against the Mexican National Team at All-Star Weekend, he finished with eight points on 50.0 percent shooting, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He’s definitely a name to watch for as NBA teams scour the market for 10-day contract possibilities.

Another player who’s had a taste of the NBA is Xavier Silas. Silas is currently with the Northern Arizona Suns, the affiliate of the Phoenix Suns. He went undrafted in 2011 and started his professional career in France. That only last a few months before he came back the United States and latched on with the Philadelphia 76ers.

He played sparingly with the 76ers and was ultimately cut before the start of the 2012-13 season. Since then, he’s played summer league with the Bucks, and been in two different training camps with the Washington Wizards.

“It was amazing, any time you get to go and play at the highest level, and I even got to play in the playoffs and play in the second round and even score, that was big,” Silas told Basketball Insiders. “It was a great time for me and that’s what I’m working towards getting back.”

While his professional career has taken him all across the globe from Israel to Argentina to Greece to Germany and even Ice Cube’s BIG3 league, he sees the G-League as being the one place that will get him back to where he wants to be.

He’s done well this season for Northern Arizona. He’s their third-leading scorer at 19.3 points per game and he’s one of their top three-point threats at 39.9 percent. At the All-Star Weekend G-League Challenge against the Mexican National Team, Silas had a team-high 13 points for Team USA including 3-5 shooting from three-point range.

It’s isn’t just what he brings on the court that Silas believes makes him an attractive candidate for an NBA team. At age 30, he’s one of the older guys in the G-League and one with a lot of basketball experience to be passed down to younger guys.

“I think it’s a little bit of leadership, definitely some shooting. I’m a vet now so I’m able to come in and help in that aspect as well. But everybody needs someone who can hit an open shot and I think I can bring that to a team,” Silas told Basketball Insiders. “I think it’s the best place for anyone who’s trying to make that next step. We’re available and we’re right here, it’s just a call away.”

Continue Reading


NBA Daily: Lillard Playing For Something Bigger

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has his eyes set on a bigger prize than just being an NBA All-Star.

Steve Kyler



Playing For Something Bigger

The NBA All-Star Game is a spectacle.

By design, the game is meant to be a showcase, not just for the players selected to compete, but for the league and all of its partners, on and off the floor. It is easy to get caught up in how players selected actually play, but the reality is while most see the game as important for a lot of reasons, Portland Trail Blazer star Damian Lillard understands it has to be put into perspective.

“I don’t think it’s fair to expect people to go out there and treat it like they are playing for the team they’re under contract for,” Lillard explained this weekend.

“It’s the one time in an 82-game season plus playoffs, preseason and training camp that we actually get a break. It’s necessary to take a mental break, along with a physical break from what we do every day. There’s nothing wrong with that, so I don’t think it’s fair to ask guys to go out there and play like it’s for the Trail Blazers. My loyalty is to my team; I got to stay healthy for my team. I got to do what’s best for my team. Obviously, go out there [during All-Star] and not mess around too much and that’s how people get hurt and stuff like that. You got to go out there and play and have respect for the game, but I don’t think it’s necessary to go out there and go crazy like it’s a playoff game.”

Lillard notched 21 minutes in Sunday’s big game, going 9-for-14 from the field for 21 points for Team Stephen, a roster that included three Golden State Warriors players. Lillard believes that eventually, he’ll get the chance to share the weekend, his third, with teammate C. J. McCollum.

“Each year you see teams are getting two to three, Golden State got four this year,” Lillard said. “But you look at it and say ‘why is that happening’ and it has a lot to do with team success. Me and C.J. just have to take that challenge of making our team win more games. I think when we do that, we’ll be rewarded with both of us making it. If we really want to make that happen, then we’ll do whatever it takes to win more games.

“I feel like this season we’ve moved closer in that direction. In the past, we haven’t even been in the position to get one, because I did not make it the past two years. I think if we keep on improving we’ll eventually get to the point that we’re winning games and people will say ‘how are they doing this’ and then hopefully our names come up. Hopefully, one day, it’ll happen.”

Another issue that got addressed during the All-Star Weekend was the growing tensions between the NBA players and the NBA referees. Representatives from both sides met to address the gap developing on the court, something Lillard felt was necessary.

“We’re all human,” Lillard said. “As competitors, we want to win. If you feel like you got fouled, you want them to call the foul every time. I think sometimes as players, we forget how hard their job can be. At the pace we play, it’s hard to get every call, and then you got guys tricking the referees sometimes, we’re clever too. It’s a tough job for them. I think when we get caught up in our competitive nature, and we forget that they’re not just these robots with stripes, they are people too. You have got to think, as a man if someone comes screaming at you every three plays, you are going to react in your own way. Maybe you’re not going to make the next call; maybe I am going to stand my ground. It’s just something that I think will get better over time. I think both have to do a better job of understanding.”

With 24 games left to play in Lillard’s sixth NBA season, the desire to be more than a playoff team or an All-Star is coming more into focus for Lillard, something he reportedly expressed to Blazers management several weeks ago.

“There are guys that have this record and guys that have done these things, and I want to at least get myself the chance to compete for a championship,” Lillard said. “If I get there and we don’t win it, it happens. A lot of people had to go see about Michael Jordan, a lot of people had to go see about Shaq and Kobe. You know, those great teams, but I have a strong desire to at least give myself a chance to be there. Take a shot at it.”

With All-Star out of the way, the focus in the NBA will switch to the race to the playoffs. As things stand today Lillard and his Blazers hold the seventh seed in the West and are tied with Denver, and just a half of a game back from the five seed Oklahoma City Thunder.

If the Blazers are going to make noise this post season its going to be on the shoulder of Lillard, and based on what he said, it seems he’s up to the challenge.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

Continue Reading

Trending Now