Bulls coach Jim Boylen welcomed the All-Star break with open arms.
Not because it was time away from the game, like it was for many at the Advocate Center, but because it gave him more time to play mad scientist with the X’s and O’s.
Boylen is hoping to unleash the tweaks Friday against the Magic in Orlando, Florida, with small forward Otto Porter a big part of the changes.
‘‘His drive game is very interesting to me because he has such positional size that . . . even maybe when he’s closely guarded, he can score over the top of the defense,’’ Boylen said of Porter and the new looks he wants to see from him. ‘‘And then he has a real good feel of passing to the pocket.
‘‘So I think what’s interesting for me with him is there’s a part of me that wants him off the ball because he’s a great receiver and there’s a part of us that wants him with the ball because he’s a pretty damn good creator with positional size. His versatility is exciting to us.’’
It has been exciting for the scoreboard, too.
The Bulls are averaging 103.2 points this season, but that average has jumped to 117.8 in the four games since they acquired Porter in a trade with the Wizards. The starting offense is feeding off what Porter brings.
Yes, having big man Lauri Markkanen attack the defensive boards and aggressively push the ball up the floor, like he has the last few weeks, has given the offense a new look. But having a knockdown shooter, such as Porter, that Markkanen and guard Zach LaVine can drive and kick to has been a game-changer.
‘‘You can’t leave him,’’ LaVine said when asked about the addition of Porter. ‘‘If I drive on his side of the floor, I know pretty much I am going to have an open lane or a one-on-one with the big.
‘‘Anybody attacks, it’s an easy kick-out to an assist every time. It’s been good. We just put in some more stuff with me and him, so we’re looking to build that chemistry, as well.’’
It’s a far cry from the way LaVine was talking when Boylen took over for fired Fred Hoiberg as coach. Boylen blew up the playbook to the basics, making the Bulls play a slow-it-down, sleepy offense.
Boylen promised that once his players learned to crawl, they would be allowed to walk, then to run. Porter seems to have sparked the running phase of the transition.
‘‘Coach, he’s letting me go out there and learn and pick up, play freely,’’ Porter said. ‘‘As we go along more games, he’ll start putting in more and more plays. You’ll definitely see it [against the Magic].’’
Boylen still likes the ball to touch the post when it comes time for half-court offense. But while four players outside and one inside was the foundation of this offense, expect more action on the elbows and away from the post side.
‘‘There’s always a time in this league when you stand,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘You fill the corners and stand. And there’s a time in this league when you need movement. And we’re trying to balance that. I don’t want us to be stagnant, but I don’t want us to miss an opportunity, either.’’