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Otto Porter Jr. insists his hip is fine, but the Bulls need more from him

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it hasn’t been a pretty start

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NBA: Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Otto Porter Jr. had his best game of the young season against the Cavs, though that bar was very low given how awful he looked in the first four games. In the 117-111 loss in Cleveland, Porter posted 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting (1-of-2 from 3), five rebounds and three assists. He was more aggressive from the opening tip and was a plus-5 along with Tomas Satoransky.

However, despite playing pretty well, he still only played 27 minutes despite the Bulls’ shallow wing depth. This follows an early-season trend. After five games, the veteran forward is only playing 25.7 minutes per game. He hasn’t played that little since his second season in the NBA.

The Bulls did say that Porter’s workload would be monitored and he could see some load management. But given how lethargic he has looked and how little he has played, there have naturally been questions about his health. The 26-year-old has dealt with a nagging hip issue throughout his career, and K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported earlier this week that the Bulls are monitoring that hip.

For what it’s worth, Porter insisted before the Cavs game that he’s fine, via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic:

“I’ve always had little hip issues,” Porter said. “That’s just because of how my body is: tight hips, long, lanky. I deal with that on a daily basis. That’s nothing new. So my hip, I always work on that. But for me it’s just early. I’m getting my legs up under me … So my hip is fine.”

The fact that Porter looked better against the Cavs was at least a good sign, but the Bulls obviously still need more from him. He’s now at 8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and an assist per game, which isn’t close to good enough. He’s shooting a putrid 31.8% overall and 23.8% from 3, a far cry from his red-hot shooting after the trade last season. That shooting (48.3/48.8/90.6) wasn’t going to hold, but numbers in line with his career marks (48.1/40.2/79.4) shouldn’t be too much to ask.

The Bulls also simply need him on the floor more. With so little wing depth, Jim Boylen has been using a lot of three-guard lineups, with little success. The injury to Chandler Hutchison (he’s expected to be back Friday) and Denzel Valentine’s preseason ineffectiveness only made the wing issue worse, so Porter apparently being limited has only compounded the problem further.

Hopefully, Porter can build on his Cavs performance and start really ramping up his minutes and his performance.