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Bobby Portis has big dreams
"Once I step on the court I'm mad. I play with a chip on my shoulder, a log on my shoulder, that no other player plays with every possession. Some players play to play; I play to win."
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By Sam Smith | 6.25.2015 | 11:55 p.m.
Bulls first round draft pick Bobby Portis at least doesn't dream modestly.
"I like Kevin Garnett; I also like Tim Duncan because they are guys who are hard workers," Portis by telephone told reporters gathered at the Bulls Advocate Center after being selected No. 22 by the Bulls in Thursday's NBA draft. "(Players) who go hard and are very versatile at their position. So they are guys I really like."
Last month at the NBA draft combine in Chicago, the Arkansas big man was similarly direct.
"My passing and my intensity," Portis said then when asked by reporters why he likened himself to Garnett. "Simply because once I step on the court I'm mad. I play with a chip on my shoulder, a log on my shoulder, that no other player plays with every possession. Some players play to play; I play to win. Playing to play is getting 20 minutes, getting your shots, your minutes.
Playing to win is if coach puts me out there four, five minutes you know Bobby Portis is going to give his all every minute he is out there."
The Bulls can only hope, though the 6-11, 245 pound forward (measurements with shoes at the combine) likely will be more of a future player for the Bulls. Portis, a sophomore, just turned 20 in February and comes into a crowded front court with Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah and Nikola Mirotic. Thus, Portis is lined up more for the future with Noah entering the final year of his contract and Gasol turning 35 the first week of July.
But Portis said he is experienced coming off the bench as he did so in high school and in AAU ball since he was a 6-2 guard who had a big growth spurt to 6-10.
"With me in high school I sat on the bench," Portis said back at the combine. "People don't know I was 6-2 then. I grew to 6-10 and I had to adjust to this body. I sat on the bench then, but it doesn't matter because I am going to continue working to become that best player and be the best Bobby Portis I can be.
"I feel like I can bring something to the team no one else can," Portis added then at the combine. "I can play multiple positions. I can defend multiple positions. And I can also make shots. For a big that can make shots is pretty big. At 6-2, I was not posting up. I was shooting jumpers. It's why I think I can shoot a little bit because when I was 6-2 I had to shoot jumpers."
Portis is considered a good face up shooter without a substantial post game. He's more a mid range shooter with high level comparisons to Greg Monroe more than Kevin Garnett. He's good on the break and can finish in traffic and comes in as SEC player of the year. The overall sense is he has an NBA sized body for his position and will need to grow into his skills, which he will have time to do coming off the bench in limited action with the current deep Bulls team.
Because Portis was ranked somewhat higher than the Bulls pick at No. 22, the Bulls didn't have him in for a workout. But they felt he was too good to pass up given his size and potential.
"I haven't had any workouts with the Bulls so this was new to me," said Portis by phone after the draft Thursday. "I worked out for teams above them. But I'm still kind of grateful to them (for) giving me the opportunity to be a Bull.
"I was just trying to get drafted today," Portis said. "Thankful for getting drafted and having this opportunity to be in the NBA. I'm a guy going hard as he can, going hard at every position because that is the only thing that got me here is my hard work. I can't stop working."
Bulls general manager Gar Forman and coach Fred Hoiberg were asked after the draft about a comment Portis made saying he visualizes opponents slapping his mom so he plays angry.
No one got into a discussion of domestic violence, but Portis, according to interviews while in college, experienced it during a difficult childhood in which his mother and siblings were forced to move often and Portis on one occasion stepped in to stop an assault on his mother by a boyfriend. Coaches called him and angry player also fighting the gang culture growing up poor in Little Rock, Ark. Portis told ESPN in college the domestic violence incidents have helped motivate him to improve as a player to help his mother and when people look back on this draft years from now they’ll see him as the best player.
Asked about playing for coach Fred Hoiberg, Portis recalled his team losing to Hoiberg's Iowa State team this season, though Portis had a good game.
"It was a brutal game for us," Portis recalled. "(We) didn't come out ready to play; our team came out kind of lackluster. So our team had to step it up in the second half and we came back a little bit but they still took off. I like Fred Hoiberg because he lets you play. If you can do something he is going to let you do it. If you can dribble, he's going to let you dribble as a big. He's going to let you show your versatility and everything. So that's one thing I really like about him.
"They are a lot of blue collar players on the (Bulls) team that do a lot of different things," Portis noticed. "(Guys) trying to go as hard as they can and (doing) some of the dirty work for their players. That's also me going hard and being a blue collar player. I think my strengths will show. I'm a player who prides himself on hard work. I can do a lot of different things with the basketball and I don't have (to have) the basketball to score. I'm a guy who moves well without the basketball, picks and pops and picks and rolls. I'm able to do a lot of different things and think I bring a lot to the table for the Chicago Bulls."