The #FreeBobbyPortis movement picked up some big steam after his 20 point, 11 rebound stint against the Knicks in only 22:46 of playing time.
Portis showed some really promising signs that he can be a solid NBA player and a great fit for Hoiberg's system. Count Hoiberg as a believer too:
Hoiberg: "We have to find minutes for Bobby. He's ready."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 21, 2015
Portis is already solid offensively. Defensively, he has very common issues for rookies that are going to hamper him from getting big minutes right away. Let's look at what he's already bringing to the table:
Portis showed that he can score in a variety of ways. His jumper was solid, he took O'Quinn off the dribble, and he was active on the offensive glass. A really nice showing all-around in his offensive game, as you can see from his highlights .
One of Portis' biggest offensive strengths is that he can theoretically stretch the floor and take a rim-protecting big man away from the basket. If Portis can clear away the middle to allow better penetration for the Bulls' guards, that will be a huge benefit for Hoiberg's offense.
You can see how Hoiberg wants to utilize this strength, although it's not happening yet. He had Portis spotting up at the 3 point line quite a bit, but Portis doesn't command the respect yet to actually get guys to come out and guard him:
That will change one day though. Although he wasn't a prolific 3 point shooter in college, Portis consistently hit 3's from NBA distance in summer league (42%) and preseason (50%). He also hit two pick and pop 3 in this game and is 2/4 on the year.
Portis said during preseason that running hard was one of his biggest strengths. He showed it in the Knicks' game. He was consistently sprinting down the court and beating his man, forcing the Knicks into switches and causing problems with his speed. Two examples:
On this play, Portis grabs this rebound and sprints down the court, beating Porzingas and looking for the ball the whole way down. Because of him, the entire Knicks defense had to switch, the Bulls eventually swung to Aaron Brooks, and Brooks took the slower Lance Thomas off the dribble on a mismatch to draw a foul.
Portis is the first guy down the court, beating all other 9 players. That is going to serve this offense well if it can ever kick it into high gear like Hoiberg wants.
Portis also showed a knack for bringing the ball up off rebounds, leading a few fast breaks and getting fouled on one where he went coast to coast.
Almost all rookies are not at the level yet where they can do anything close to contribute on NBA defense and Portis is no exception.
One positive - he did show very active hands. He was put in pick and roll twice early and both times, he got a steal off the play (example 1 | example 2). However, his positioning on both of those plays was poor. He got lucky gambling and reaching into the passing lanes. He does have good reach though and a good nose for the ball.
On other plays, Portis stayed completely glued to his man. For most of the game, he was guarding Kyle O'Quinn, who isn't really much of an offensive threat. However, Portis would not leave O'Quinn to help off drives or when other players got deep post position.
As an NBA big, Portis should be protecting the rim and helping his guards out. If Portis is behind the guards though, they are going to be on an island. The Bulls gave up a ton of points in the paint with Portis in there - his rim protection was pretty much non-existent. Even if Melo was two feet from the basket, Portis wouldn't leave his man.
That's fine though for now - team defense is something that needs to be learned by rookie bigs, and Portis should be able to figure it out with enough playing time.
Portis also got tricked a few times guarding the post. Kyle O'Quinn bullied him down there and he was also forced to grab Porzingas when he got fooled on a spin move.
Portis didn't show a great knack for defensive rebounding either. The Knicks got six of their 10 offensive rebounds in the 20 minutes he played and he was directly responsible for a bunch of those - He got outmuscled a bit trying to box out. As he adds strength to his body, this should become less of a problem.
Overall though, a very solid and promising outing from Bobby Portis. He was saying all of the right (boring) things to the media after the game too. He's becoming a bright spot in a tough stretch for the Bulls.