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.”
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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.
“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.