Editor’s note: The following is the third of four stories examining players the Cavaliers might select with the first pick in the NBA Draft.
There’s not much debate that Georgetown small forward Otto Porter would be an upgrade over current Cavaliers starter Alonzo Gee.
The question is whether he would be enough of an upgrade to warrant being selected with the No. 1 pick in the June 27 NBA Draft.
“He’d be able to step in and start,” Sheridan Hoops draft expert Joe Kotoch said. “How much of an impact he would make is a bigger question. I’m not sure about that.
“Would he be an upgrade over Alonzo Gee? Yes. Does that warrant a guy going No. 1? I certainly hope not.”
The 6-foot-8½, 198-pound Porter put up numbers across the board last season as a Georgetown sophomore, averaging 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.9 blocks. He shot .480 from the field overall, .422 on 3-pointers and .777 at the line.
“This guy is a stat stuffer,” said Ryan Blake, the NBA’s senior director of scouting. “He’s so versatile. He didn’t grow up taking the AAU route. He’s fundamentally sound and can shoot the ball from deep.
“The guy is going to earn his minutes right away.”
After Porter, the next-best small forward is considered to be UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad, who was mentioned as the possible No. 1 overall pick in the draft before he ever played a college game.
The 6-6¼, 222-pounder will still likely go in the lottery, but there’s virtually no chance he’ll go in the top five picks.
“He’s left-handed, he’s got good speed and athleticism and he’s improved his jump shot, but he still needs to work on it,” Blake said. “He relied too much on his strength.
“When he gets here (to the NBA), he’s going to have a lot of strong basketball players to contend with. He needs to impact defensively. He’s left-hand dominant, his handle needs to tighten up and he doesn’t create a lot for his teammates.”
There are not nearly as many concerns with Porter, as scouts are virtually unanimous in their belief he will be a successful NBA player. The debate starts when the discussion turns to whether he’ll ever be dominant.
Porter has drawn comparisons to Tayshaun Prince, and as much as that is a compliment, it’s also an indirect way of saying he’ll never be a star.
“He’s a little bit of a throwback,” Kotoch said. “He really excels in the midrange and pulling up off the dribble.
“He’s not someone I see as a high-impact guy in the NBA. He’s probably more of a third or fourth option offensively, but he’s got some tools to be a good defender.”
The way Kotoch sees it, the only way Porter will end up in Cleveland is if the team trades down and takes him somewhere between the third and sixth pick.
Still, whatever team drafts the 20-year-old will end up with a high-character player who is highly unlikely to fail.
“When you get someone that is that versatile, whatever team takes him is going to love him,” Blake said. “When he gains confidence and gets more of a green light, he’ll become more of a factor offensively.”
Porter will almost certainly never be LeBron James or Kevin Durant, but no one really is.
“When you’re looking for a franchise player, you look for someone who can dominate physically and athletically and stat-wise,” Blake said. “He has the stats and he’s got the mental game nailed down.
“There’s just so much versatility with him. He’s going to be a guy that can step in right away. If he doesn’t become your franchise player, that’s OK.”
Next: Shooting guards Ben McLemore of Kansas and Victor Oladipo of Indiana.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.