Eleven games into the 2022-23 NBA season, the duality of the Golden State Warriors‘ roster has never been more apparent. That’s not a reference to the team’s oft-discussed contrasting timelines, either. We’re strictly talking bench versus starters here.
The Steph-Klay-Dray-Wiggs-Loon first team continues to crush it, much as it did last season. As of this writing, those five players’ plus/minus scores add up to a whopping 233 points on the positive side of the ledger over a combined 1,500 minutes.
Things get ugly when you attempt the same exercise with the rest of the roster. In just under 1,200 combined minutes, the bench mob — which is exclusively filled with negative players — comes in at minus-418.
So, it should come as no surprise that Dub Nation has been pining for Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr, who made the second unit a major source of strength for Golden State in 2021-22. Not only that — OPJ looks to be well on his way toward making a similar impact with the Toronto Raptors this season.
Porter Has First Big Night After Return From Injury, Excused Absence
Hopes were high in the Great White North that Porter would help solidify the Raptors’ bench when he elected to leave the Bay and sign a two-year, $12.3 million deal with the club over the summer. Alas, the Toronto faithful had to wait to actually see him in action.
A left hamstring injury suffered during the early stages of training camp kept the 29-year-old on the sidelines as the season tipped off. His debut was then further delayed due to personal reasons (more on that later). Consequently, the Raptors were without their top offseason signee for the first seven games of the new campaign.
Flash forward to now and Porter has played in five games for the Raptors. But his effort against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday was far and away the best of the bunch.
In a season-high 24 minutes on the court, Porter scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting (and 2-of-5 from three-point range). He also added six rebounds and a steal in the contest, which the Raptors won by a 116-109 mark.
From a personal standpoint, though, his biggest night actually came just before he returned to the hardwood.
OPJ Is Also a New Father
Turns out, the personal reason that kept Porter from jumping in with his new teammates was the birth of his first child, a daughter. “It’s a big step in my life,” Porter said, via the Toronto Star. “People can tell you what to expect, but until you go through it, you have no idea.”
That’s not all he’s going through.
As if the pressure of being a first-time father while, simultaneously, attempting to integrate with a brand-new club (and one with big-time aspirations) wasn’t enough, teammate Fred VanVleet has already levied a particularly large expectation on Porter’s baby girl.
“There’s a lot of pressure. The last baby (Fred Jr.) brought us a championship (in 2019),” VanVleet said. “So we’ll see what Otto’s baby can bring us this year… Hopefully Otto brings some of that same luck.”