Is Porter's fast start with the Bulls sustainable over long haul?
The first four games with new addition Otto Porter Jr., have been ideal for the Bulls.
He's shooting the lights out, opening up the floor for Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen, and looking like an ideal piece for the rebuild.
It's easy to forget Porter was in the midst of a disappointing season in Washington. After five straight years of improvement, he was averaging just 12.6 points and shooting 37 percent from 3-point range at the time of the trade.
As the Bulls head into their final 24 games of the regular season, it will be interesting to see if Porter's success is sustainable. During the past two days, Porter doubled the number of practices he had with the Bulls before the break.
"It helps a lot. Practice is where you can get acquainted with everybody, coaching staff, still learning names," Porter said following Thursday's practice at the Advocate Center. "Right now I'm just learning the plays. Learning our defensive schemes, what coach wants us to be defensively."
Porter recorded his career-high of 14.7 points per game last season. That's well below the 22.5 points he's averaged in his first four with the Bulls.
It's conceivable Porter was underutilized with the Wizards, mostly playing as the third option behind Bradley Beal and John Wall. This season, Washington moved Porter to a bench role so he could get more shots without the starters on the floor. The Wizards were using Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green as the starting forwards.
A common complaint with Porter in Washington was his inconsistency, a tendency to disappear for a few games. Will it happen again, or will being part of a more equal-opportunity Big Three with LaVine and Markkanen be exactly what Porter needs?
When talking to reporters, Porter is friendly, but tends to keep his answers short. He did say he enjoys the added responsibility he has with the Bulls, not only being one of the featured players, but also as a relatively experienced veteran. Porter is just 25, but he does have six years in the league and 31 games of playoff experience.
"Of course I like it and it's different, being one of the oldest on the team," he said. "You kind of want to share your experience with the guys. Any way to help the team, I definitely want to put my touch and what I see and how I know how to play the game to this group of guys."
Porter missed 10 games in December with a knee contusion, then didn't always shoot it well when he came back. From Jan. 1 until the trade, he shot 37 percent from 3-point range, but has hit 11 of 19 attempts so far with the Bulls. Last season, Porter was among the NBA leaders in 3-point percentage at .441.
Bulls coach Jim Boylen likes to use the term "positional size" when discussing Porter. What he means is Porter is every bit the 6-feet-8 listen on the roster, which makes him a candidate to shift to power forward in smaller lineups.
"His drive game is very interesting to me because he has such positional size that he can shoot over, even maybe when he's closely guarded, he can score over the top of the defense," Boylen said. "What's interesting for me with him is there's a part of me that wants him off the ball cause he's a great receiver, and there's part of us that want him with the ball on the ball because he's a pretty darn good creator with positional size."
What the Bulls would like to see if Porter's darn good start to continue through the end of the season.
Bulls vs. Orlando Magic, 6 p.m. Friday at the Amway Center
TV: WGN • Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Outlook: The Bulls have played the Magic three times and this is the first visit to Orlando. The teams met in Mexico City Dec. 13, with the Bulls losing 97-91. Then they split two games at the UC. ... Orlando (27-32) was playing well heading into the All-Star break, with five straight victories, all by double digits. ... C Nikola Vucevic leads the Magic with 20.5 points and 12.1 rebounds. PF Aaron Gordon is averaging 15.8 points, with SG Evan Fournier at 14.9 and SF Terrence Ross with 14.6 off the bench. ... Rookie C Mo Bamba is out with a stress fracture in his left leg.
Next: Boston Celtics, 7 p.m. Saturday at the United Center
-- Mike McGraw