Portis pick shows Forman, Hoiberg haven't lost sight of Bulls basics


Portis pick shows Forman, Hoiberg haven't lost sight of Bulls basics

Almost everybody thought the Bulls would go to one of the pretty boys in this supposed wide-open spread the floor era ushered in by Fred Hoiberg taking residence on the sidelines.

But with the selection of Arkansas’ Bobby Portis, they went to the equivalent of picking up an offensive lineman, one of the grimy players in the draft, perhaps a signal they won’t stray too far from their roots — roots that have made them one of the more formidable teams in the East since the turn of the decade.

The partnership between Hoiberg and Gar Forman, men with similar roots, seemed to be in agreement on the selection of Portis. Hoiberg has front office experience from his time in Minnesota, so he was able to toss in his input, probably a little more than the average coach.

“I gave input that I saw, I do feel like I had a voice,” Hoiberg said. “And again I think we all came to the conclusion that we had a good group together, there were a couple guys there that we would have been very comfortable taking but as Portis kept falling down the line it was a great pick for us.”

[MORE BULLS: Bobby Portis a 'unanimous selection' for Bulls' front office]

While his lottery talent appealed to the Bulls, his draft standing didn’t have any bearings on his style, which should fit right into what the Bulls do.

“I’m a guy who has a lot of energy, who goes 100 percent on every possession, every loose ball,” said Portis on a phone call with the media. “That’s the thing that got me here, my hard work. I can’t stop working.”

Perhaps it wasn’t lost on Forman and John Paxson, the sight of Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson bullying the Bulls on the glass in the second round of the playoffs several weeks ago, a six-game series loss that ended ugly on the Bulls’ home floor.

It wasn’t lost on anybody that the average age of the Bulls’ main bigs (Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson) will be 31.6 years old on opening night come October, though Forman insisted actual needs will be filled via free agency and trades.

[SHOP BULLS: Get a Bulls draft hat right here]

The Bulls general manager insisted taking the best player available was the only thing on the Bulls’ agenda, and Hoiberg saw first hand what Portis could do when Portis’ Arkansas squad was waxed by Hoiberg’s Iowa State team this season.

“He was 6-of-7 in the first half, ended up with 19 points, I believe, eight or 10 rebounds and was a guy that can hurt you from both inside and out,” Hoiberg said.

Portis said his team wasn’t ready to play that day, but Hoiberg was impressed nonetheless, an attitude he’ll have to bring to a locker room with a bunch of veterans and solid frontcourt players.

“I like Fred Hoiberg. He lets his players play,” Portis said. “If you can do something, he’ll let you do it. If you can dribble, he’ll let you dribble as a big. He’ll let you show your versatility and everything.”

The Forman-Hoiberg relationship appears to be off to a successful start, but then again, every early relationship has its honeymoon period that lasts until the first conflict.

[SHOP BULLS: Buy a Bobby Portis jersey]

But Bulls fans are likely somewhat relieved to see the franchise hasn’t completely laid waste to the tenets that made it successful — taking a talented player yes, but also one who’ll dish out a few scars in practices.

We've officially found the biggest Michael Jordan fan ever

We've officially found the biggest Michael Jordan fan ever

There are diehard Michael Jordan fans.

And then there's this guy.

Forget anybody getting a tattoo of their favorite team's championship trophy. Forget the people who wait for hours in terrible weather just to catch a glimpse of their favorite player.

This dude has a constant, 24/7 reminder of "His Airness":

Yep, that is a full tattoo of a Jordan "23" jersey on his back, complete with a Michael Jordan "autograph" in the middle of the "2." 

Dedication at its finest.

Couple questions: 

A) Does it carry over to the front at all? And if not, is that a plan for the future?

2) Will one of his buddies get a "45" Jordan jersey tattoo or are we just gonna continue to pretend that era never happened?

D) What will that tat look like in a few years? That guy better stay away from the Doritos...

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career


Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.