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Rosen’s Rookie Reports: Bobby Portis

Dec. 14, 2015 - Chicago, IL, USA - Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis (5) drives on Philadelphia 76ers forward Jerami Grant (39) during the second half on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, at the United Center in Chicago (Photo by Brian Cassella/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
Brian Cassella/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

The Chicago Bulls made a valiant effort, but the day after their emotional win at Oklahoma City, they basically ran out of gas in the endgame. Their physical and mental road-weariness accounted for several last-minute missed layups and turnovers, which included a five-second inbounds violation. As the game approached the final buzzer, the Mavs outscored the Bulls by 10-3 to cap the home team’s 118-111 victory.

Another disappointing aspect of Chicago’s play was the performance of its celebrated rookie, Bobby Portis. While it’s axiomatic that NBA rookies are plagued by inconsistency, Portis is the poster boy of this principle.

With Joakim Noah out with a sprained shoulder, Portis was expected to blossom with the increased playing time that the Bulls fans and even the local media had been clamoring for. And, just one short week ago, Portis had a bust-out game against the Knicks — scoring 20 points, hitting 2-3 treys and snatching 11 rebounds.

OKAY!

As the 22nd draft pick out of Arkansas, the 6’11”, 240-pound Portis was hailed as a steal! He’d be a perennial All-Star and lead the Bulls in a return to the glory days of MJ, Pip and company!

Following his explosion in New York, Portis had exemplary games against Brooklyn and OKC — totaling 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and only one turnover in 34 minutes. Solid stuff that certainly demonstrated his continued evolution.

Too bad, then, that Portis suffered a severe case of rook-itis in Dallas.

Let’s take a closer look at what he did and didn’t do in his 10 minutes of daylight.

OFFENSE

On the plus side of the ledger, he set three solid screens, one of which led directly to a score. He scored on a tip-in, one of Portis’s two offensive rebounds.

Not a bad output.

However, his negatives were disastrous and accounted for his decreased playing time. To whit:

  • Stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball after a Dallas score. TO #1.
  • Running over Raymond Felton on a Chicago fast break. Personal foul and TO #2.
  • Having the ball poked out of his hands while he desperately tried to find a teammate to pass to. TO #3.
  • Set a moving screen. TO #4.
  • Missing a forced mid-range jumper.
  • Making an awkward crossover dribble then badly missing the ensuing layup.

DEFENSE

Portis made several positive contributions here.

  • Showed terrific instincts and lateral quickness in showing-and-recovering when helping on high screens.
  • Stayed with Dirk Nowitzki when the future Hall-of-Famer looked to take him to the hoop by making a few exploratory dribbles.
  • Deflected a turnaround jumper shot by Nowitzki in the low post — but wasn’t credited with a block.
  • Made an effective closeout that caused Felton to miss a three-ball.
  • Came a long way to seriously challenge a layup by Chandler Parsons, but Parsons had beaten Taj Gibson so badly that only a slight adjustment was needed for the shot to drop.
  • Made a successful help challenge on a missed layup by Wesley Matthews.
  • Boxed out extremely well.
  • Made a veteran move in throwing an arm into Dwight Powell’s face while sealing him off the glass. It was Powell who was whistled for the foul when he grabbed the offending arm. The young man isn’t afraid to mix it up.

Portis made only one mistake on defense: Biting on a convincing fake made by Nowitzki on the nether side of the arc — allowing Nowitzki to bag an unobstructed trey. This was entirely excusable since defenders have been suckered by Nowitzki’s fakes for 18 years.

THE VERDICT

Portis is an incredible athlete, with great hops, size, length, lateral quickness, north-and-south speed, plus a soft shot with good range. He’ll be a rookie for another four or five months, then, later-than-sooner — and depending on his work ethic — he has every chance of being a dependable rotation player who can effectively play both ends of the game.

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