Bulls Season Rewind 18-19: Otto Porter Jr.
Often players traded in midseason take some time to adjust to a new team and situation before they’re able to make meaningful contributions. Not Otto Porter Jr.
The small forward, traded to Chicago in February for Jabari Parker and the popular Bobby Portis, came in and immediately changed the chemistry of the team on the floor. After five and a half seasons in Washington, Porter gave the Bulls a veteran presence at the 3 spot and an intricate knowledge of the game. The Bulls won their first game he played in by blowing out the playoff-bound Nets, and proceeded to win six of their first eight games with Porter in the lineup.
Though he would go on to miss the final 11 games of the season with a shoulder injury, his smooth game and tangible impact on the floor immediately endeared him to Bulls fans and made him a clear core part of this team’s makeup moving forward.
Though his time with the Bulls was brief (just 15 games), it was impactful – he averaged 17.5 points with the Bulls and shot threes at a 48% clip. Let’s take a look at some of Porter’s best games as a Chicago Bull:
February 13, vs Memphis (Bulls 122, Grizzlies 110)
Porter Jr. Stat Line: 37 points (16-20 FG), 2-2 FT, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block
It took Otto Porter Jr. four games with Chicago to set a career high in scoring, as he poured in 37 on the Grizzlies in a virtuoso performance that had Bulls fans buzzing at their new acquisition.
"Dude gets it going like that you have to go to him," said LaVine about his new teammate. "We played a solid overall game and got off the schneid at home (after 11 straight losses). Porter plays so many different positions. He's a veteran, he knows what he's doing. Very smart, talks on defense, can flat out score, shoot the ball, spaces the floor. He's doing a little bit of everything. Since he's been here, I feel like I've been able to get more driving lanes, easier catch and shoots or with him playing two-man games and Lauri getting more open shots.”
March 1, at Atlanta (Bulls 168, Hawks 161 4OT)
Porter Jr. Stat Line: 31 points (10-25 FG), 7-13 3PT, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal
In this four overtime classic, Porter Jr. was part of the crew that logged absurd minutes (54 total for Porter), hit huge clutch shots, and pulled out a big win in one of the league’s best games of the season. Porter Jr. sent the game to overtime originally after getting fouled on a final second three-point attempt and making all three free throws, and his steady play on the floor and calming presence helped steady the ship and pull out a big win. Oh, and he tied a career high with 7 three-pointers made.
February 27, at Memphis (Bulls 109, Grizzlies 107)
Porter Jr. Stat Line: 20 points (7-12 FG), 3-6 3PT, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks
It was something about Memphis this season. A couple of weeks after his career night against the Grizzlies at the United Center, Porter Jr. stuffed the stat sheet again in Memphis, putting up numbers across the board both offensively and defensively and playing an important role in a close Bulls win, including coming up with a clutch block on a two-on-one Grizzlies fast break in the final seconds. The Bulls moved to 5-2 in games Porter had played.
"He settles us down," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said about Porter after the game. "He's poised, he makes a big shot when we need it, he gets a big steal in a gap; he got two gap steals that changed that fourth quarter. We're thankful for him."