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Player Preview: Otto Porter Jr. has a lot to prove

Everyone together, now: “can he stay healthy”?

Toronto Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr.
Otto Porter Jr. stands at the ready.
Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

During the first five years of his career, Otto Porter Jr. was a beacon of good health and only missed 22 games. Total. That’s it. At the end of that five year stretch, the Washington Wizards rewarded his stellar three point shooting, astute defensive positioning and high ceiling by offering him a 4 year, $106 million dollar contract. Porter Jr. was effectively locked in as a cornerstone of a pretty fun Wizards team. And after the first year of his new contract, the wheels fell off.

Over the next three years of his nine figure deal, Porter Jr. would go on to miss 148 games with a malady of injuries and found himself without an NBA home. Thankfully for the Golden State Warriors, Porter Jr. came cheap at the end of his massive deal, and had something to prove. Otto found himself in the role of “indispensable bench guy”, which, for the Warriors, was more valuable than any other team in the league thanks to their outsized luxury tax bill and inability to sign players to anything more than the minimum unless they owned their Bird Rights. That 2021 role brought him a welcome return to health — Otto played 63 games that year — and saw him conclude his season with something he had never experienced before: a championship.

Fresh off of their championship, but unable to afford his services, Golden State bid farewell to the now-journeyman who was primed to hit the market and find a new squad to reclaim some lost time. Here enters the Toronto Raptors; a ship that was starting to take on water but could maybe, just maybe plug some holes by filling in a bench that was, and has been for some time, really, really bad. That new bill of health and optimism lasted a grand total of eight games before Porter Jr. dislocated his toe and eventually decided on surgery that would see him miss the remainder of his first season with Toronto.

Which brings us to the present. Porter Jr. picked up his $6.3 million dollar contract and once again will hope to showcase why he was so sought after in the first place. Because every team in the league needs a guy like Otto Porter Jr. off the bench, or, at least the idea of a guy like Otto Porter Jr. off the bench.

And what a guy he can be, especially for a Toronto Raptors team so desperate for outside shooting and spacing. When healthy, Porter Jr. is a career 40% 3-point shooter who loves to find his way into as many catch and shoot attempts as he can find. This would be found be like finding water in the desert for the Raptors. Moreover, he provides rangy defense and some veteran guile on a team of young guys who are looking to carve out a new identity, with a new coach. When it’s all said and done, he’s a champ, and the Raptors don’t have many of them left on their roster. Should Porter Jr. manage to stay healthy for the second time in five years, he will provide something that the Raptors have been without for a long time. A steady bench hand that can shoot.