Bulls are working to better manage Otto Porter’s minutes
The Bulls have a plan in place to manage Otto Porter Jr.’s minutes in order to keep him available, but Porter just might be the fourth-most important Bull.
It was only a 10-game sample, but the Otto Porter Jr. presence couldn’t be overlooked.
Acquired from Washington in February, Porter’s impact was immediate as the Bulls went 7-3 in his first 10 games, including wins over Philadelphia, Boston and Brooklyn.
The winning subsided as March went on, and then Porter was on the shelf with several nagging injuries, last playing in Sacramento on March 17.
So of course the Bulls have put a plan in place to make Porter more available, as well as manage his minutes in a smarter way. The days of 55 minutes in a four-overtime win in Atlanta won’t be happening anytime soon.
“We will manage him appropriately,’’ coach Jim Boylen said. “He will not play over 30 minutes in anything we do to get going here. We’ll manage him on the off days in a real respectful way. Obviously, he’s a big piece. He’s our starting three, a big wing. And we need him.’’
That plan will be tested quickly, with the Bulls playing their first back-to-back in Week 1, playing in Memphis on Friday and then hosting Toronto in the home opener a night later.
What say you, Coach?
“We’ll see how he feels,’’ Boylen said. “It might be a situation where we manage him the first night in order to play him the second night. Or manage him the first night and the second night he feels maybe a night he doesn’t play. But we have a plan. It’s rough because it’s depending on how he feels.’’
The Porter Plan will also test the Bulls’ depth, especially with Chandler Hutchison on the shelf with a lingering hamstring issue.
Hutchison is the most natural back-up three, and for now the second unit is attacking with three guards using Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono and Cody White.
“No, I’ll hold it down for us until we get Chandler back,’’ Porter said. “That’s going to be always my job. But like I said, we got a lot of guards that can play the three too. We got a lot of guys that can play multiple positions. If somebody goes down, the next man always got to step up and replace — not replace but do more — and I feel like everybody is going to do more.’’
No doubt Porter’s importance can’t be overstated, but is he the most important piece on this roster if they want to sniff the playoffs?
Not even close.
1. Wendell Carter Jr. — Boylen considers the second-year big man the anchor of the defense. Not only his ability to switch onto guards in pick-and-roll, but also as the best rim protector on the roster.
Two question marks with the seventh-overall pick from the 2018 draft: One, can he stay healthy, and two, can his shorter frame — listed at 6-10, and that’s on a good day — hold up against the bigger centers around the league?
Considering the injuries he’s had his first 15 months, it will all start with Carter being available.
2. Lauri Markkanen — The fact that Markkanen has played his best basketball with Zach LaVine injured or not on the court has to be concerning. Those two have to figure it out, and moreso Markkanen, who seemingly disappears when LaVine is in a groove.
Markkanen has a laid-back approach to the game, but has to be more demanding of the ball, especially when he feels he has a mismatch.
3. Tomas Satoransky — In making a sign-and-trade for Satoransky with a cost of $30 million over three years, the Bulls are banking on the former Wizard back-up to now be a starter, and more importantly, make the engine run.