The Bulls addressed a need by selecting Arkansas forward Bobby Portis with the No. 22 selection in Thursday’s draft.
In Portis, the Bulls receive the SEC Player of the Year who features a combination of size and skill that could be helpful this season and seasons down the line. Portis averaged 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds last year. He also pulled down a respectable 13.6 offensive rebound rate this season. None of that will help Portis moving forward, but having a pedigree of success makes me feel at ease with the choice.
Without going into too much detail, the Bulls selected a player with a 6-11, 242-pound frame who has been lauded for being a versatile, willing defender with a nose for pulling down the ball off the glass and enough athleticism to run the break.
The Bulls have three rotation bigs, all of whom are either old, injured or old-and-injured.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson will each be in their age 30 seasons in 2016. Pau Gasol will be 35.
Noah is coming off an injury-plagued campaign. Gibson had offseason surgery. Gasol’s playoff run was hindered by the injury as he missed a pair of games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Couple that with the fact that the Bulls were run off the boards in their postseason ouster, I find it difficult to hate the decision to select Portis.
Here’s the thing: Portis might not step in right away and make significant contributions right away. And that’s OK because you shouldn’t expect that out of the No. 22 pick. And if you’re expecting the No. 22 pick to walk on the NBA hardwood and do big things in big minutes as a rookie, just take a look at the history of No. 22 picks.
When the Bulls had a chance to select a player who could make an impact right away, they traded into the lottery for a player who ended up wearing a professional redshirt. And yet, that was a draft pick many liked. So, there is that.
So, what else could you have asked for with pick No. 22?
A reserve point guard in Tyus Jones? A potential solid wing defender such as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson? A shooter like R.J. Hunter?
All would have been selections I wouldn’t have complained about. And frankly, you probably shouldn’t be complaining about this selection either.
The combination of significant holes and a new coaching philosophy means there is plenty of uncertainty as far as the Bulls are concerned. At some point, the Bulls need to get younger and more skilled. Maybe that point is now.
Speaking of new coaching philosophies, youth and skill, one of the first things I would be doing if I was new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is showing Doug McDermott tape of J.J. Redick’s rookie season.
“This is what the league thinks of you.”
Then, I would show him tape of the last two or three years of Redick’s career.
“This is what I think you can be if you work at your craft.”
McDermott has a lot of catching up to do, as he played a grand total of 321 minutes.
But why the Redick comp?
Redick, the No. 11 pick in the 2006 draft, played a 898 minutes in his first 76 career games over the first two seasons of his career.
But credit Redick for his perseverance. Rather than be stubborn and flame out, Redick worked at his deficiencies and earned the trust of his coaches — and eventually playing time. Redick has shot 40 percent on his 3-point attempts since the start of the 2009-10 season after wrapping up the 2008-09 season shooting 37 percent.
I see a lot of Redick in McDermott. Offensively, he is one-dimensional and not as strong as a guy his size should be. Defensively, he is a liability with poor footwork and fundamentals. Much like Redick in his younger years, McDermott’s flaws were exposed on a nightly basis at the NBA level. That is, when he saw playing time.
And like Redick, McDermott possesses one elite skill — the ability to shoot.
If McDermott commits himself to quickening his release and works on some of his noted deficiencies, he can find himself as a useful piece to the puzzle. If he doesn’t (or even worse, if he’s not good enough to make fixes) then he might go down as one of the biggest busts in Bulls draft history.
At some point, universities should invest in showing their student-athletes how to use social media.
While most don’t (or even shouldn’t) care about what young adults between the ages of 19-22 are sharing on social media, I know for a fact that colleges and universities do. Why? Because colleges and universities care about how their school and/or athletic program is perceived by outsiders.
Perception is key to colleges and universities when it comes to recruiting, funding, community relations, etc.
So, while you or I shouldn’t care about what guys tweet or post on Facebook, many institutions do, in fact, care about what is being said by a student athlete who is representing not only the team, but the university’s brand.