Bobby Portis was the best available player on the board when the Bulls nabbed him with the No. 22 overall selection in the 2015 NBA draft. We have recent examples of the Bulls drafting for need (Marquis Teague), or for want (Doug McDermott), or for obscurity's sake (Tony Snell). But in Portis, the Bulls went best available, and that's a drafting philosophy which typically rewards.
But before we take a closer look at Portis, let's let the video do the talking first:
As you can see, the 6-foot-11 Portis comes to the NBA with a pro-ready game. After all, he was the SEC Player of the Year. Even at 20 years old, Portis is closer to a finished product than he is a work in progress. While the draft has a tendency to over-inflate the value of upside and potential, a player as complete as Portis being available at No. 22 should make Bulls fans feel glad that the team didn't let him slip past. Especially considering most of the guards the Bulls were targeting -- Jerian Grant, Rashad Vaughn, Terry Rozier and Delon Wright -- were all off the board, anyway.
While Portis classifies as the type who 'isn't great at anything but is damn good at most things' again, that's not really a bad thing. Because when looking at Portis, you see a player who should be able to do most everything that's going to be asked of him at the NBA-level. Play with a relentless motor? Check. Knock down a jumper or two? Check. Defend pick-and-roll? Check.
Kevin O'Connor's scouting report of Portis provides tremendous detail. Here's a synopsis.
- Portis uses "the hop" as opposed to a one-two step when loading for his jump shot, which generates a quicker release. However, in contrast, the Draft Express video above suggests Portis has a slow release but also acknowledges that Portis, regardless, gets the job done as a shooter.
- Portis has experience switching out onto guards on the perimeter in pick-and-roll, which is huge. In today's NBA, switching and defending guards has almost become a prerequisite for big men. That Portis has shown the ability to do so is comforting. Mobility is becoming a must for big men and it's one of Portis' strengths.
- The one skill which he may be elite in is offensive rebounding. As Chicago saw firsthand, Tristan Thompson proved that crashing the offensive glass can still be incredibly effective in today's game. But teams like San Antonio and Golden State, for a variety of reasons, aren't too concerned with offensive rebounding. So I do wonder if that skill might be somewhat negated if Fred Hoiberg is more concerned with playing with pace.
- But when it comes to the defensive glass, Portis may encounter some troubles. He did get pushed around a bit in college, but given his high motor, there's reason to believe he can rebound at a high-level in the NBA despite not having great lift.
- Which leads to the most interesting questions regarding Portis: can he play center? Portis arrived at Arkansas 215 lbs, but now lists at around 240. He's actually bigger than Joakim Noah. And of course, we just witnessed an NBA Finals where LeBron James and Draymond Green played center. Portis could very well be the perfect center for modern basketball. But there's no real way of telling one way or the other at this time. At the very least, Portis is ready to bang with NBA power forwards.
- Apparently, Portis is a pretty intense dude. He's actually quoted as saying as much, telling Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, "I am crazy." Portis' pregame ritual includes getting super psyched by imagining the opponents slapped his mother. So basically, from a mentality standpoint, this guy is Kevin Garnett Jr. I'm unsure if I should be excited or terrified by that. Probably both.
Personally, I like the pick. I like that the Bulls took the best player available after players that made more sense from a fit standpoint were taken. They didn't get cute with things. Portis figures to be as close to a sure-thing as there is in this draft class. Above all else, I want guys who know who they are and know what they can do. I want players that play hungry. Portis seems like that type of player to me. So I'm excited for his future, and I think you should be, too.