Chicago Bulls: Bobby Portis is a hidden gem

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11: Bobby Portis
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11: Bobby Portis /

It’s no secret that last season Bobby Portis was one of the better reserves in the league. While the sixth man role is perfect for him on the Chicago Bulls, that doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t a capable starter.

The last eight years have been a roller coaster ride in terms of emotions for Chicago Bulls fans. From mediocrity, to elite team status, and now a rebuild that may be cut short, the state of the franchise as a whole has been rather inconsistent.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the Bulls’ ability to find special talent.

Whether it be the emergence of Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler or the steady development of Luol Deng, the Bulls have consistently found elite-level talent for their roster through the draft and Bobby Portis is arguably no different.

Portis has proven to the world that he’s a capable starter in today’s NBA.

A slow start

When he was taken with the 22nd pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Bobby Portis wasn’t expected to make an instant impact. Even when Pau Gasol left after the 2015-16 season, Taj Gibson stepped up to the plate as the starting four.

As a result, Portis averaged just 6.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 0.6 assists on 45.7 percent shooting from the field and 32.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc in 16.7 minutes per contest.

While these numbers certainly weren’t terrible considering the playing time and the depth at his position, Bobby was never able to fully prove his worth as a starting big man.

While this past season still saw him retain a reserve role, his playing time increased and his impact took a huge leap. Portis established himself as a top-tier contributor off the bench, but is he capable of being more than that? If last season is any indication, he definitely is.

The ignition

This past season the Bulls were plagued with injuries to key players, but Portis was an exception. He played in 73 games (four starts).

In just 22.5 minutes of play, Portis averaged a noteworthy 13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. He shot 47.1 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Yes, Bobby’s defense still needs some work and the Bulls didn’t have many consistent scoring options due to injuries and a young core but the point still remains. He was finally given over 20 minutes per game and he capitalized on the opportunity.

What’s more impressive is how Portis fared when playing starter’s minutes. He played more than 30 minutes in nine games last season. Throughout those 9 games, he averaged an All-Star level 19.8 points, and 9.6 rebounds.

Obviously, statistics aren’t ever clear proof of All-Star level talent as the circumstances have to be considered, but Portis seemed to impress every time he was given the opportunity and even notched a career high 38 points against the 76ers.

He’s got the skill, but just not enough opportunities to show off his full abilities on this team. Most Bulls fans recognize and appreciate this for the most part, but his potential could be a lot higher than most people expect.

The future

With the addition of Wendell Carter Jr and the already high-level play of Lauri Markkanen, Portis will retain his sixth man role for this season. Whether he stays in Chicago for a while and accepts his reserve role or ends up somewhere else as a starter, Portis is a capable big man in this league.

With a 6’11”, 230 pound frame, quick feet, a jumpshot, and a decent post game, the 22 year old has the tools to become a star in this league. With a little defensive work and continuing to refine his craft, Bobby Portis could emerge as a top power forward in this league with the right opportunity.

Next. Zach LaVine is ready to put the Bulls back on top. dark

Whether the Chicago Bulls can turn into a top team in the East within the next few years or not, the talent on this young roster is undeniable and Portis is no exception.