Bulls

Bulls rookie Bobby Portis making early impression on Fred Hoiberg

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Bulls rookie Bobby Portis making early impression on Fred Hoiberg

By Brian Howell

Special contributor to CSNChicago.com

BOULDER, Colo. – Finding minutes during the regular season might be difficult for Bobby Portis.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the rookie won’t be an important part of the Bulls roster this season.

Already the first-round pick from Arkansas has impressed head coach Fred Hoiberg.

“I love the kid’s energy,” Hoiberg said prior to the Bulls’ 112-94 loss to the Denver Nuggets at Coors Events Center on the University of Colorado campus. “He plays so hard.

“I think we really got a player at (draft pick) No. 22.”

[SHOP: Buy a Bobby Portis jersey]

As long as the Bulls stay healthy, Portis may have to wait for his time to shine. The 6-foot-11 forward is battling Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson in the frontcourt for minutes, but Portis said he’s eager to learn from his veteran teammates.

“They’ve taken me under their wings thus far in the preseason, just trying to teach me the ropes in everything I’m doing,” Portis said.

Hoiberg believes Portis can return the favor by having a positive impact on his teammates, too. 

“As hard as he plays, he’s going to make a big impact regardless of how many minutes he’s playing because of the fact he can push our starters,” Hoiberg said.

Hoiberg believes Portis can help the Bulls on game nights, too.

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“I would have absolutely zero issues putting Bobby in a game right now,” Hoiberg said.

Either way, Portis said he’ll make the best of whatever role he has to play this season.

“I entered the draft because I wanted to come in and show what I can do on the NBA level,” he said. “Now I’m just trying to play a role for this basketball team. My role is to come in for a guy and a big energy guy, just to bring some positive energy off the bench and play my role, which is being a dog out there on the basketball court.”

So far, the dog has looked good on the boards. After pulling down 14 rebounds in 23 minutes against Milwaukee on Tuesday, he had 10 points and 16 rebounds against the Nuggets. He’s had seven offensive rebounds in each game.

Portis has struggled with his shot, though. He went 2-for-12 against Milwaukee and 3-for-10 against Denver. Hoiberg is confident Portis’ shot will come, though, and he did show his range by knocking down a 3-pointer against Denver.

“I’m a guy that plays with a lot of energy and I’m just trying to go out there and try to do some things I do well,” he said. 

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr. grabbed some attention when he remarked that he was "perfect fit for today's NBA game" during an appearance on The Will Cain Show.

The interview went a long way towards showing off the uber-confident nature of Porter, who has consistently talked about being the best player in his class throughout the draft process. Porter also remarked that he was "an immediate impact guy," and that he "doesn't want it to take long to be one of the best players in the NBA."

His hubris has been intruiging considering the mystery surrounding the prospect.

During the interview Porter added that he would be open to doing more workouts for NBA front offices ahead of Thursday's NBA Draft. The only workout he has completed so far was his pro day workout in Chicago, and multiple reports have cited that Porter did look good shooting, though he was in an isolated setting with no defenders.

The one thing Porter has not done much throughout the process is talk about his weaknesses, which is somewhat concerning seeing as he has much to improve on. The general consensus is that a healthy Porter can get buckets at will. But if he can improve his ball-handling, rebounding and passing skills, he will be much more than a go-to scorer. Tightening his ball-handling skills is likely the key, as the ability to grab the rebound and push in transition would be a huge boon for Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's offense.

The biggest question when it comes to Porter on the Bulls is can he fit with Lauri Markkanen? Despite receiving many favorable Kevin Durant and Paul George comparisons leading up to the draft, there is a rising sentiment that his best position in the NBA may be the power forward spot. It is not yet known if he has the foot speed to stay in front of quicker wings in today's NBA. But at six-feet-ten-inches, it is easy to imagine him having a huge advantage against slower power forwards rather than wings. While Markkanen is not currently built to be a full-time center, playing him at the five with Porter at the four would present Hoiberg with a potentially devastating closing lineup.

Versatility is the name of the game in today's league, and Michael Porter Jr. may be the key to unlocking the full potential of Hoiberg's pace-and-space attack. 

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

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USA TODAY

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

Just two years after being drafted in the second round, Paul Zipser told German media that he doesn’t see the Bulls wanting him next season.

The Bulls have until mid-July to pick up Zipser's option.

"I would not be surprised if they no longer want me.” Zipser said in German and translated via Google Translate

“Actually, I'm pretty sure I will not play in Chicago soon.”

Last month, Zipser had surgery on his fractured left foot, in his native country of Germany, which grew speculation the Bulls wouldn’t pick up his player option for next season. Zipser said the surgery "went perfectly."

Zipser showed some flashes of potential in his rookie season, averaging 5.5 per game and 2.8 rebounds in 44 games. But this past season, he played more games, but injuries derailed him from improving his overall production. He finished with four points and 2.4 rebounds in 54 games, including 12 starts.

Zipser explained that things changed from his first year to his second year.

“They were very varied," Zipser said. "The first year was just going very well. I fought my way into the team from the beginning and showed how I can help the team. The Bulls just needed someone like me. That's why it worked so well. We benefited from each other - that's why we were successful.”

“That was very different. It was not right from the beginning, and I was already struggling with my injury. It was not quite clear what it is. If you have pain in your foot, you automatically go down a bit with intensity. You just do not want to hurt yourself and be completely out. It was then difficult for me to keep my head in the sport - I did not manage that well. Nevertheless, the injury should not be an excuse.”

Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Zipser might not dress up in a Bulls uniform next year.