In the days before Thursday's NBA Draft, Gar Forman and the Bulls front office didn't have much discussion about Bobby Portis.
The SEC Player of the Year who had averaged 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds in his second season at Arkansas was projected to fall somewhere in the middle of the first round, perhaps as early as No. 15 to the Hawks and well before the Bulls were set to select at No. 22.
But as power forwards continued to fall off the Bulls' draft board — Frank Kaminsky to the Hornets, Myles Turner to the Pacers, Trey Lyles to the Jazz — and other teams went after shooters in Kelly Oubre, Sam Dekker and Justin Anderson, Portis' name remained.
So when the Bulls went on the clock just before 9 p.m., the entire war room was in agreement about who the selection would be.
"We were going to take the best player available," said Forman, who admitted the Bulls slotted Portis as a late lottery pick. "When Bobby was on the board at 22 there was no discussion; he was the guy we were going to take."
Forman said the Bulls did their scouting on Portis throughout the year but that the majority of their targets were guards heading into Thursday night because of the "reality of the situation." Looking to fill a critical backup point guard position and some injury insurance for Derrick Rose, as many as six players at the position were expected to be selected in the first 30 picks.
The expected run on point guards occurred in the teens, with Oklahoma City drafting Cameron Payne with the final lottery pick after D'Angelo Russell had gone No. 2 to Los Angeles and Emmanuel Mudiay No. 7 to Denver. Boston then opted for Louisville point guard Terry Rozier — who the Bulls had been linked to — Phil Jackson and the Knicks traded up to No. 19 to grab Notre Dame's Jerian Grant, and the Raptors replaced Greivis Vasquez by drafting Utah's Delon Wright one pick later.
That left the Bulls with one realistic option at point guard, Duke's Tyus Jones. The front office's affinity for Blue Devils might have had Jones near the top of their list as Dallas selected Virginia's Justin Anderson at No. 21 and put the Bulls on the clock, but with Portis still available the discussions were short and debates non-existent.
"Just being in the draft room tonight, it’s not very often when you get to your pick, especially in the 20s, and everyone, it’s a unanimous decision," head coach Fred Hoiberg, who previously worked in Minnesota's front office, said. "And that happened tonight with Bobby still on the board. So it’s exciting."
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Portis filled a need, too.
With Taj Gibson set to miss four months with ankle surgery and Joakim Noah's knee an ongoing issue, Portis will provide stability, depth and insurance for the future as the Bulls transition to a more uptempo offense under Hoiberg. The Razorbacks' leading scorer has range out to the 3-point line and was a stellar mid-range shooter and was one of college basketball's best offensive rebounders.
But Forman was insistent that the selection was simply following the draft board.
"When we address needs, a lot of time we feel it’s either via trade or free agency. And we’re going to draft the best player we feel is available, and we look at it that way not only for the near future but for down the road," Forman said. "And we felt 100 percent for sure when we were at 22 and he was on the board that he was the best player available to us."
Forman said he feels as though the Bulls are getting a mature player in Portis, despite his sophomore status. Forman had selected four upperclassmen with his seven first-round picks since taking over as Bulls' general manager, and the team's current win-now, contender status would have made selecting an NBA-ready player a viable option.
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But Forman stayed true to his board, finding a value pick in the 6-foot-11 forward. And though it wasn't what he was expecting when the Timberwolves went on the clock to begin the night, it ended with the Bulls unanimously selecting a player they feel has lottery-caliber potential.
"As we saw him start to slip we got excited about him, and then we were surprised he was there," Forman said. "Really excited to get Bobby. I think he’s going to be a fit with our team, a fit in our locker room. I think he’s got a lot of potential for the future and is a guy that will really, really fit in with our team."