For Wizards' Otto Porter And Glen Rice Jr., It's A Summer Of OpportunityPosted on July 09, 2014 by Carla Peay
It was supposed to be this way in 2013 for Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter and guard Glen Rice Jr. -- a chance for each to shine in the Summer League, where rookies are the main attraction in the NBA. Porter didn't get that chance.
"Last year, I got hurt during Summer League, and that kind of hurt me," Porter said. "But this year, I'm looking forward to playing all my games, however far we go, and just try to use it to get prepared for training camp."
Injuries to Porter's hamstring and hip flexor sidelined him at the start of his rookie campaign. By the time he was healthy enough to play, he found himself buried on the bench behind Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster. Porter appeared in 37 games and averaged 8.6 minutes during the 2013-14 season, and he was able to show flashes of the player the Wizards were looking for when they drafted him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2013.
"I'm very excited about [training camp]," Porter said. "It's something that I really didn't get a chance to do last year. Just watching the guys play, like Glen, last year really made me want to come back and redeem myself."
The Wizards will begin Summer League play July 12 in Las Vegas following a minicamp at Verizon Center July 7-12. On this team, Porter and Rice are taking on the veteran leadership roles.
"We have been through it all, so we kind of know what to expect, unlike last year and being nervous," Porter said. "I'm viewing this year's Summer League as a comeback. Now that I'm healthy, it's fun playing in the Summer League and helping these guys out. These guys, they look up to us, so we've got to show them the way."
Like Porter, Rice suffered injuries that derailed his rookie season. Sidelined by a fractured wrist, which required surgery, Rice bounced back and forth between the Wizards and the D-League's Iowa Energy, appearing in 11 games for Washington. A second-round pick (No. 35 overall) by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2013, Rice signed a contract with Washington in July 2013.
Now ready to press the reset button on their NBA careers, the 6-foot-6 Rice and the 6-foot- 9 Porter have been pushing each other daily at the Summer League minicamp, at which Wizards forward Al Harrington has been serving as one of the coaches.
"It's a battle," Porter said. "It's competitive, but we just try to make each other better. We both want to do good in Summer League. We're both hungry. We want to play on the team and help out as much as we can, and last year, we couldn't as much. This year, we think that we can."
Both players cited ballhandling and defense as the main focuses of their offseason preparation for the 2014-15 season.
"This is the time to showcase what you can do, showcase what I've been working on," Rice said. "I'm definitely excited. This is what you've been working for your whole life. You always want to be that guy, so I'm just ready to work. If spots are open, we'll definitely seize the opportunity."
With Webster scheduled to miss the start of the 2014-15 season following a third surgical procedure on his back, and Ariza's return still in question because of his free-agent status, Rice and Porter could both have opportunities to receive more playing time during the 2014-15 season.
"My mindset is the same," Porter said when asked about the status of the two players at his position. "Just to work hard and show [the coaches] they can trust me."
The Nationals are 0-5 during extra-inning games at home this season, but Matt Williams said there wasn't anything wrong with the team's approach.