Bobby Portis, as to be expected for a rookie, had an up-and-down first season in the NBA. The 6’11 forward was drafted 22nd overall by the Bulls in 2015, but minutes were initially hard to come by under new Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg, leading to a #FreeBobbyPortis movement on social media. Portis finally played his first game on January 5, against Milwaukee, eventually playing in 64 games for the season (starting 4), and showing glimpses of what Bulls fans might expect as he grows into, not only his body, but the league as well.
Portis spent this past summer split between Chicago and his home in Arkansas, working on his game, staying ready for when Holberg decides to call his number this season.
Starting5 caught up with Portis prior to the Bulls’ game against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday to talk about his off-season, last season’s inconsistent minutes, and more.
Starting5: How was your summer, man? What did you get up to in the off-season?
Bobby Portis: Great summer. I was in Chicago a lot and I [also] went home to Arkansas a lot to visit my mom and my family there, so it was a great summer with me. I got a lot of work in with the Bulls. It was a very fun-filled summer.
S5: What aspect of your game did you work on in the off-season?
BP: Just trying to be more consistent with my jumpshot – just picking and choosing my favorite spots on the court where I can be effective, and working on some post moves, too. Ultimately, I wanted to strengthen my core. Those are the three main things I worked on this summer.
S5: Is that something that the team asked you to work on, or just aspects of your game you felt you needed to improve on?
BP: Throughout last season I kind of saw things I needed to work on, and I worked on that through the summer. So at the end of the day, it’s something that I made myself do.
S5: Last season you started off playing sporadic – if any – minutes. Was it hard to get yourself into a groove when you weren’t getting regular minutes?
BP: It was at first – I didn’t play the first 17-18 games, so it was tough at the beginning, but during that time I kind of just found my groove in practice. I used my practices as games, and that kind of made me better, too. I just viewed that as my games and that helped me a lot.
S5: What’s one thing you learned during your rookie season that you will use to help you grow during your second season?
BP: Just to always go hard. Always give an effort each and every play. That’s one thing that can’t be taught – heart and effort. There’s a lot of talented players in this league, so you have to find your niche some way.
S5: What has Coach Hoiberg told you abut your role with the team this season? What does he expect from you?
BP: Right now I’m still trying to figure out my role. You know, it’s early in the season. I haven’t figured out my role on this team yet. I haven’t played much the first two games, so I’m still trying to figure out what my role on this team will be so I can help us win.
S5: How has the dynamic changed with the new additions this summer?
BP: It changed a lot. I feel like the culture has changed a lot. There’s a lot of team oriented things we do now – a lot of guys go out together. It’s fun. I’m just looking forward to the future with this team.
S5: Last question. Obviously the team goal is win a championship, but what is your personal goal for this season?
BP: Just to be the best Bobby Portis possible. I’m just trying to be the best player I can for the Chicago Bulls.
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Feature image credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports