Call Bobby Portis 6-feet-10, 250-pounds of insurance.
With the No. 22 pick in the first round of Thursday’s NBA Draft, the Bulls obviously made the decision that their frontcourt as it is currently constructed either has some expendable bodies or is more fragile than they’re letting on, as they added the versatile power forward from Arkansas.
Maybe it’s both.
Joakim Noah spent last season laboring with a surgically-repaired left knee that sources have indicated is “bone-on-bone,’’ and also enters the last year of his contract. Taj Gibson had surgery on his left ankle last week, and is sidelined from all basketball activity for possibly four months. And then there’s Pau Gasol, who will eventually start losing that one-on-one pick-up game with Father Time, sitting at age 34.
All issues that general manager Gar Forman did his best bob-and-weave with.
“When we address needs, we feel that it’s going to be via trade or free agency, and we’re going to draft the best player we feel is available,’’ Forman said, when asked about drafting Portis because of those concerns with his frontcourt. “We look at it that way for not only the near future, but also for down the road. Who we feel is the best guy to grow with our team moving forward? So there were no discussions like that as far as the other frontline guys.’’
There better be at some point.
Both Gibson and Noah were expected to be trade chips this summer, as the Bulls are trying to clear cap space to add a veteran small forward, as well as an experienced back-up point guard, so maybe the addition of Portis makes the team more comfortable in doing that.
The problem is that it might be tough for Noah to pass a physical as is right now, while Gibson’s surgery obviously changes his status.
Entering the night, the thought was the Bulls might add a point guard, but in their eyes Portis was too good to pass up, as they had him slotted as a late lottery selection on their board.
In his two seasons with the Razorbacks, Portis showed that he was not only a versatile scorer, but also a high-motor rebounder.
During the 2013-14 season, he averaged 12.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, before coming back last season and 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, as well as shooting 47 percent from beyond the three-point line.
He plays with an edge, admitting that one of his favorite players is Kevin Garnett. And also admitted that before games he visualizes that the opposing player has “slapped my mom.’’
“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,’’ Portis said. “I can’t stop working.’’
There were very few knocks on Portis’ game as far as scouts were concerned, with one scout even labeling him “the safest pick in the draft.’’
What mattered to first-year coach Fred Hoiberg was that he had another weapon to help his high-octane offense. And if he plays angry? Well, that’s a bonus.
“Heck yeah,’’ Hoiberg said, when asked if he likes that kind of disposition. “Like it a lot.’’