Leading up to each individual NBA Draft, there’s around a handful of prospects that I really latch on to and adore. An example of that was during last year’s draft where I was one of the lone people out there that envisioned then-Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon as a viable 1st round prospect. While I’m not usually the kind of person to pat myself on the back, Brogdon currently stands as arguably the best rookie in the NBA that’s not Joel Embiid.
In the prior year, that prospect was then-Arkansas power forward Bobby Portis. Although there were a plethora of “sexier” prospects in that year’s draft class, Portis stood out as a prospect that didn’t get the attention that he deserved. During his time with Arkansas, Portis showed himself as a player that can shine in a multitude of different ways on both ends of the court. Here’s an excerpt of me describing his versatility in a prospect profile from my time at Salt City Hoops.
Despite that great offensive versatility, Portis fell down to the 22nd pick in the 2015 NBA Draft where he was selected by the Chicago Bulls. While most late 1st-round picks would spend their rookie seasons in the D-League, Portis was fortunate to immediately get a significant role from the jump. During that rookie season, Portis impressed by putting up 7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on 43% from the field in 18 minutes per game. However, any kind of optimism built during that rookie season would evaporate as he transitioned into the following year.
Transitioning into his sophomore season, Portis has seen his role decrease from how he was as a rookie. That decreased role is mainly due to both Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson shining as some of the lone bright points on an otherwise struggling Bulls squad. With those two players shining, Portis spends a lot of his time at the end of the Bulls bench. Playing only 23 of the Bulls 36 games, Portis has averaged 3.9 points and 2 rebounds on 47% shooting in only 11.4 minutes per game.
Knowing that Portis’ possible progression has deterred due to his limited playing time, Chicago decided to send the 2nd year forward to the D-League to play with the Windy City Bulls.
That decision paid immediate dividends for both Portis and Chicago’s D-league affiliate as he just went off in their Friday night game against the Westchester Knicks. In 38 minutes, Portis posted a massive performance as he put up 32 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks on 12-24 from the field and 1-4 from beyond the arc. With this performance, Portis showed continuous flashes of that talented Arkansas big that I fell in love with two years ago.
Over the course of that game against the Knicks, Portis shined as a great pick-and-roll screener for former NBA veteran Will Bynum. Throughout the game, Portis shined as a solid mid-range shooter or as an off-ball cutter. That mid-range stroke is shown in the play below as he hits a pretty step-back over Maurice Ndour.
Coinciding with that solid shooting stroke, Portis spent the game just dominating on the offensive glass. Collecting six offensive rebounds during the game, Portis spent the game dominating by combining his quick footwork with tremendous work ethic. Throughout that game, Portis just continuously out-hustled the opposition that ultimately allowed him to collect those six offensive rebounds. An example of Portis’ hustle on the offensive glass is evident in the play below where he collects his own miss.
While Portis’ incredible 35 point outburst catches the eye of any fan of the Bulls of the NBADL, it was his work on the defensive end that helped push Windy City to victory over Westchester. An example of that defensive effort is how he helped keep Knicks assignee Maurice Ndour to just 6 points and 1 rebound on 3-9 shooting. Even when he wasn’t working against Ndour, Portis still shined as he spent the night working as a rim protector as he finished with three blocks. One of those denials are seen below where Portis prevents Chasson Randle from even thinking about scoring.
In the day after that terrific performance, Bobby Portis was brought back up to the Chicago Bulls. Despite that incredible performance, Portis will probably remain behind Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic in the Bulls power forward depth chart. However, Fred Hoiberg and the Bulls coaching staff might need to think about increasing Portis’ minutes if he keeps on playing like he did on Friday night.