In case you missed it, Bobby Portis made his NBA debut Tuesday night in a blowout loss against the Charlotte Hornets. Portis entered the game with 9:44 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Bulls clearly had no chance to win, but you couldn’t tell from the way Portis played.
In less than ten minutes, the former Hog racked up ten points on 5 of 7 shooting, including a big dunk in transition and a beautiful 17 foot turn around fade away jumper. He’s the first player in 25 years, according to basketball-reference.com, to debut with 10-plus points in ten minutes or less.
Now, admittedly, that’s a stat that no one is going crazy about – but it is something to notice. Arkansas fans already know how well Portis can play. He was the best Hog player since Corliss Williamson, and he led the Hogs to an NCAA tournament berth. Now he’s ready to make his mark in the NBA, and he’s well on his way, according to Bulls Head Coach Fred Hoidberg.
“He’s getting out there, stirring things up,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said of Portis in practice. “He’ll continue to do that every time he steps on the court, whether it’s a shootaround. He goes and gets extra work at night with [assistant coach] Pete Myers. Every time he steps on the floor, the kid goes 100 percent. That’s what you love about him.” Hoiberg added, “I look forward to getting him out there. I don’t know when it’s going to be. He’ll be ready. I’m 100 percent confident in that.’’
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Portis’ intensity is even ticking off his teammates during practices. With all-star veterans like Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and other proven veterans, Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson, minutes are not going to be easy to get. His practices are his games.
“I’ve pissed off all of them,’’ Portis said on Tuesday. “That’s just who I am, that’s what I do. I’m a guy that goes out
Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
and plays hard, every possession, every second, every minute, I’m going to give my all. Sometimes guys get a little rattled ’cause I’m going hard and they want me to slow down. But I feel like for me as a player, as a young guy, I have to do that just to get some respect.’’
Portis’ role model is Kevin Garnett, and it sounds like Portis is headed toward Garnett-level intensity. As an opponent, he’s going to push your buttons. As a team mate, he’s going to push you to get better. I personally believe Portis can be as good, maybe better, than Garnett – call me crazy, I already know. Think about it, though. Portis and Garnett share a lot of traits and skills: fierce competitiveness, the hunger for greatness, impressive movement and ability for their size, both can shoot (Portis’ range is a little better), and they both make the teams they play on better.
Portis has a good organization behind him. His coach loves him. He is a rookie on a team of all-star forwards, and soon he will be one too. He gets to learn from the best on a daily basis. Give it two or three years, and we’ll be seeing Portis play in the mid-season game.