What’s wrong with Bulls forward Otto Porter? Just looking for ‘mojo’
The veteran said he’s not injured and he’s not concerned about his shot. In Porter’s world it’s about finding his “swag’’ and putting in some good old fashioned hard work on the practice floor.
CLEVELAND — The ball has to move better offensively.
There has to be a tougher commitment on the defensive end.
Open shots have to fall.
Otto Porter knows all of the obvious flaws currently hovering over his head, as well as the heads of his 1-3 Bulls teammates.
But where do the repairs really begin?
“For us we just got to get our mojo, get our swag back to the way we were playing in training camp, in the preseason,’’ Porter said, following the Tuesday practice.
Maybe too simple.
The 26-year-old veteran forward, however, believes it is that basic.
“When the ball is moving, guys are playing defense, flying around,’’ Porter continued, when assessing the rough entry into this season. “Screaming, yelling, you know, getting after it. That’s the Bulls. We just got to get back to it, get back to our identity, which is getting out and running, threes, and playing Bulls defense.’’
That’s why Porter and fellow team captain Thaddeus Young were very vocal as practice was wrapping up on the Cavaliers home court. They made sure that coach Jim Boylen was going to keep the scheduled shootaround on Wednesday morning. They also made sure that teammates understood how badly they needed every opportunity to get better. Shootarounds, practice, everything.
“What we learned last game we’ve got to apply that to our next game,’’ Porter said. “That’s how you get better. Closing out games, realizing how we play in the first quarter, that’s how we have to play out the rest [of the game].’’
And Porter knows that a lot of that starts with himself.
It’s only four games, but this is not the Porter the Bulls saw last season when they traded Washington Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis, getting the versatile forward in return.
Porter only played 15 games in that 2018-19 campaign with his new team, but had an instant impact, averaging 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists, while shooting 48.8 percent from three-point range.
He’s been on a minutes watch, averaging just 7.3 points and three rebounds, while shooting 21.1 percent from three-point range.
Something has to be wrong, right?
“You can’t let, what four games? Four games determine your season,’’ Porter said. “It is early. I’m still getting used to the new system, everything, the new team, still getting my legs under me. Keep shooting. Keep being aggressive, be in a position to be aggressive. Hopefully, [Wednesday] night I can start putting this together.’’
As far as his health, Porter said the early-season minutes restrictions are more about the organization being conservative. He maintained that he’s always had hip issues, “because the way my body is, tight hips, long and lanky. I deal with that on a daily basis. That’s nothing new.
“But for me it’s early, getting my legs up under me. My hip is fine.’’
The good news is a slow start isn’t new for Porter. He was slow out of the gate last season, as well.
Boylen just wants to make sure that Porter isn’t getting lost in the offense, especially with Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen given bigger roles, as well as the emergence of rookie Coby White.
“Always a concern for me that he feels value and is involved,’’ Boylen said of Porter. “It’s tough when you don’t touch it for a couple reps, and then you touch it in a tough situation and have to make a decision. So we will continue to work on that.’’