Bulls

Why the Bulls should take Jontay Porter with the No. 38 pick

Why the Bulls should take Jontay Porter with the No. 38 pick

For Bulls fans, the idea of drafting another player with serious knee injury concerns is no doubt  a very worrying thought. But when it comes to former University of Missouri big man Jontay Porter, Bulls fans should be fairly optimistic if they franchise is able to grab the uber-talented youngster with their No. 38 overall pick.

Strengths:

Porter, despite being only 19 years old, has the game of a 10-year NBA veteran. The first thing that you notice when you look at Porter’s numbers from his brief college stint is his awesome playmaking stats. He put up 5.4 assists per 100 possessions (19.6 percent assist rate), and was comfortable finding the open man whether he initiated the offense from the top of the key or the post.

For any team that needs to add more passing--cough, cough, looks at the Bulls ranking in 25th in assist percentage--Porter’s desire to find the open man is the start of his NBA appeal.

Despite being a player who looks to create for his teammates first, Porter is a very capable scorer. He is by no means a “jump-out-the-gym” athlete, instead relying on his guile and feathery soft touch on jump shots to put the ball in the basket. Per Hoop-Math.com, he shot 45.5 percent on 2-point jump shots and with only 16.8 percent of his shots coming at the rim. This is important because it shows that Porter has nice touch on his floaters and short-midrange shots, which will take on massive importance against dominant shot blockers in the NBA.

Porter's use of shot-fakes and subtle head movements make him a difficult cover for impatient defenders.

Porter’s offensive versatility is--like almost everything else in his game--completely tied to his sky-high basketball IQ. He is a solid shooter, hitting 36.4 percent of his 110 attempts from 3-point range. The 6-foot-11, 240 lb. Porter uses his wide frame to set great screens, which when combined with his shooting touch makes him quite the pick-and-pop threat on offense.

One of my favorite and most clear-cut comparisons for Jontay is Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. In the clip below, he shows yet again how his patience is his best attribute. After turning down the pick-and-pop 3-point shot, Porter drives into the paint to draw the help defender and then promptly finds the open man for a dunk.

Injuries obviously effect so much a young player’s game but Porter’s basketball IQ can’t be sapped by knee issues.

His intelligence on the court is obvious on both ends on the floor. Porter averaged 2.7 blocks and 1.4 steals per 40 minutes and was active rotating over on help defense. Despite the fact that he was prone to occasionally over-helping, Porter always kept his eyes on both ball and man. His attention to detail allows him to force turnovers--2.1 percent steal rate and 7.3 percent block rate--and instantly turn them into efficient transition opportunities.

Porter would’ve no doubt been a first round pick had he not gotten injured and could’ve been a lottery pick had he turned in another great year with significantly more playing time. The skills that made him such an enticing prospect are still there, they just need to be expanded upon as he works his way back into game shape.

Weaknesses:

No matter what site(s) or scouting reports you look at in regards to Porter, you will see a mention of his lack of elite athleticism. Porter was never the most explosive athlete to begin with and obviously multiple ACL tears don’t bode well for his chances of getting anywhere near becoming one.

I use per 40 minute stats quite a bit when discussing Porter because it amplifies his strengths and weaknesses, and that shows up quite a bit when it comes to his defensive struggles. Porter averaged a whopping 4.8 personal fouls per 40 minutes during his freshman season.

A big reason for these foul issues is that Porter often found himself stuck in between being a PF and C when it comes to matchups. The NBA’s positionless future makes that less of an issue for him, but he still will struggle to defend NBA-sized centers in the post.

Porter’s pick-and-roll defense is going to be way more important to his NBA longevity than his post defense, and that should give scouts some pause when it comes to discussing Porter’s draft stock. His ability to move laterally is the No. 1 thing that the NBA team that selects him should be concerned about. Porter had trouble bottling up quick guards coming off of screens, and much like his comparison Nikola Jokic, he will need to showcase the ability to play in hedge and drop back coverages on defnse.

If Porter can limit the amount of times he is beat (badly) off the dribble on straight-line drives, he will be able to corral guards and lead them into the help defense. But with such a long way to go before we know what Porter will look at 100 percent, it is tough to sell people on the idea that his defense won’t take several steps back before it takes a few steps forward.

Long term outlook:

Jontay Porter is too smart and too skilled of a basketball player to flame out of the NBA. That being said, the multiple ACL tears means that the margin of error for Porter whenever he hits the NBA--or  G League--floor is going to be very small.

To continue down the developmental path that it looked like he was headed down his freshman season, Porter simply needs to continue to keep his positive attitude and work on fine tuning his body in preparation for the speed of the pro game.

For a Bulls team that is woefully short on playmakers and has no discernible bench unit to speak of, Porter could be the ultimate diamond in the rough. A player of his talent level would have no chance of lasting to the No. 38 overall pick under normal circumstances, but the injury history will scare enough teams off that Porter could go anywhere from the first round to the very last pick of the draft, as NBA mock drafts have his stock all over the place. The Bulls may have an argument for playing it safe with the No. 7 pick, choosing to select a PG over the best player available to fill out what they fill is a solid starting unit/core group. But there is no such argument that could made about the second round of the NBA draft.

The second round is for NBA front offices with excellent scouting staffs to mine value out of unheralded or undervalued prospects, and if he is available, there will be no better second round value in the 2019 draft than Jontay Porter.

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Who makes it to the All-Star Game?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Who makes it to the All-Star Game?

The NBA All-Star Game voting is almost up and the biggest question is if Zach Lavine make the cut. Jason Goff is joined by Will Perdue, and Kendall Gill as they give their official East and West All-Stars for this season.

(2:05) - If Zach Lavine makes the ASG, who doesn't go?

(3:54) - Eastern Conference selections

(8:12) - Debate on if Trae Young should go to the ASG

(13:48) - Does the League have influence on who makes the ASG?

(15:38) - Should Lavine use Dunk Contest as leverage for the ASG?

(18:23) - How Chicago will react to having All-Star Weekend

(19:15) - Chance that Derrick Rose will make the ASG

(20:51) - Western Conference selections

(22:26) - Fan voting needs to be gone

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

Bulls Talk Podcast

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Thad Young pleads Zach LaVine's All-Star case, offers advice to Lauri Markkanen

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USA Today

Thad Young pleads Zach LaVine's All-Star case, offers advice to Lauri Markkanen

Before any assorted media had a chance to ask Thad Young a question following Tuesday morning shootaround, he had something to get off his chest.

"Before we start, I just want to say Zach LaVine should be an All-Star. It should be said and done already," Young began, unprompted. "That guy’s been putting on a show for the past couple months. Been doing his thing. He’s been incredible. So Zach LaVine for All-Star. I'm saying it here and now, lets make sure we get this done. Everybody go vote, go do what you gotta do."

Young isn't the first Bull to plead LaVine's case, and he certainly won't be the last. The question, though, is who he is pleading to. Fan voting for All-Star starters ended Jan. 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET, the night before Young's statement.

Perhaps it's a call to coaches. Though the last fan voting returns had LaVine as the sixth-ranked Eastern Conference backcourt player, there remains the possibility of him sneaking in as one of the seven reserves, which coaches vote on.

That pool will be crowded, but LaVine has made a tremendous case for himself with his recent play. This month, LaVine is averaging 30 points (t-6th in the NBA), 5.1 rebounds and 4 assists per game on 49 percent shooting from the field (35.9 percent from 3). He's played 36.8 minutes per night in 11 January games.

"He’s done more than enough, he’s more than capable. He’s shown it time and time again, and he’s been great for us all season long," Young said. "He don’t have to pay me anything [to say this], that was my rook in Minnesota. He’s a great teammate, he’s one of the best ever, he wants to get better each and every day."

But no Young media availability would be complete without imparting a bit of veteran wisdom. When asked what Lauri Markkanen — who's season-long struggles are well-documented — can learn from LaVine's ascension, Young was candid.

"I think the confidence level of Zach and what he’s done can be instilled in Lauri a little bit. Lauri starts to miss shots, sometimes he gets down on himself. Zach misses a shot, Zach’s like, ‘I’m going to shoot the next one. I’m going to be more aggressive. I’m going to try to get to the basket,’" Young said. "And then being able to mix up his game a little bit. Not just, ‘Hey, I’m just going to shoot the 3’ or ‘I’m just going to drive and take it to the basket’ [without] having an in-between game or being able to mix in some post ups here and there."

On Markkanen's ability to do that within the Bulls' system: "Our offense is structured and predicated on 3s and getting to the basket. But coaches are still encouraging him to mix everything up. The coaches are encouraging everybody to mix it up — try to give opposing teams something different, something that they haven’t seen."

Starters and captains for the 2020 All-Star game will be announced Jan. 23, with reserve announcements coming Jan. 30. If LaVine makes it, Bulls fans can look forward to the All-Star draft on Feb. 6.

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