Arkansas Razorback fans and Chicago Bulls supporters alike had to wonder when Bobby Portis was going to see significant playing time in the NBA. That time came on Saturday night, as Portis saw 23 minutes of action and, ho hum, produced his first NBA double-double.
The reigning SEC Player of the Year had 20 points, 11 rebounds and two steals in the Bulls’ 107-91 loss to the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. For most of the night, Portis went face-to-face at the power forward position with Kristaps Porzingis, who had 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes. Portis out-produced the fellow 2015 first round pick, who has been garnering national attention of late.
Prior to Saturday, Portis had played in only four of Chicago’s first 24 games, with 27 total minutes on the floor. Still, he has kept positive and supportive of his teammates, who have in turn been supportive of him.
“Even though my turn hasn’t come yet, I try to be the best teammate possible,” Portis said in a post-game interview on Dec. 14, after scoring seven points in four minutes against the 76ers in his home debut. “I’ve learned that adversity makes us better. I’ve seen what other guys have gone through by sitting on the bench and waiting my turn, but once my time comes I’ll be ready.”
But now with head coach Fred Hoiberg trying to rest veteran forward Pau Gasol more and more, Portis may see more playing time, and it would be well warranted. In Basketball Reference’s “Per 36 Minutes” stat, Portis would lead the Bulls with 29.5 points and 2.2 steals, while shooting a team-best 51.4 percent from the floor. Portis even showed off his range on Saturday, going 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, adding yet another facet to his diverse game on the court.
Portis and the Bulls are back in action Monday evening, hosting the Brooklyn Nets and former Razorback Joe Johnson. Tip-Off is set for 7 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago.