The 3rd year player Bobby Portis has had a solid 2017-18 season. He is finally getting over 20 minutes per game, and is showing he can be a productive offensive player. Let’s look at Portis’ career numbers.
You can see with minutes, Portis is showing his offensive potential. For a big he is a decent shooter, he gets offensive rebounds, and can get 15-20 points in starter minutes. Here’s a quick look at Portis’ per 36 minutes numbers.
The per 36 stats just gives you an idea with more minutes, what Bobby can do. No it doesn’t necessarily mean he will put up these exact numbers. I do think however it’s fair to say with about 25 minutes plus a game, Portis is good for 15 points or more on average. Portis has shown he can be a solid offensive player, but the question really is how good can Portis become? Could he become a reliable starter? Or could he even become an All-Star? A more in-depth look at how he gets his points will help us figure out his potential.
Looking into Portis’ numbers, it’s clear he likes to shoot the ball away from the rim more than the average big.
The chart you see is from Cleaning The Glass. It is a site run by Ben Falk, previous Vice President of Basketball Strategy for the Philadelphia 76ers, and former basketball analytics manager of the Portland Trail Blazers. The stats from this chart exclude “garbage time stats”. You can see here what garbage time is defined as, garbage time. Portis shoots 38% of his shots at the rim, which is below average compared to his position. You see he shoots 26% of his shots from 3 which is above average and 36% from mid-range which is above average at his position. Portis unlike most bigs, relies on outside shooting just as much as at the rim shooting. Let’s take a quick look at how he shoots from each of these areas.
You can see why Portis likes to shoot as many jump shoots as he does. At the rim Portis shoots 57% which is in the bottom % compared to his position. Portis is a good mid-range shooter though as you see he is in the top % compared to his position from there. From 3 he is slightly below average. We will dive deeper into whether or not Portis can improve at the rim, but looking at these stats his game reminds me of someone similar. Someone who is a former 4 time All-Star. That player is Paul Millsap.
I’m talking about the Paul Millsap from 2013-14 to now. The Paul Millsap who became a better shooter once he signed with Atlanta. Let’s take a quick look at how Millsap likes to score. Here is where he likes to shoot from since 2013.
You can see the numbers are very similar to Portis. Millsap takes more shots from mid range, than he does at the rim. For a big, Millsap shoots a lot of jump shots. Let’s take a look at how he shoots from these areas.
The numbers are very similar between Portis and Millsap. They both shoot about the same from 3. They both like to rely on jump shots really when you break it down. For 4 seasons in Atlanta, Paul Millsap was an All-Star. Let’s take a quick look at those numbers.
These are Millsap’s numbers all four All-Star seasons. When you compare these numbers to Portis’ per 36 numbers, they really start to look similar.
The question becomes can Portis be as good as Millsap? What are the differences between their games? One thing difference you notice is Millsap gets to the line more than Portis. Let’s take a look at their drawing shooting foul numbers.
Looking at the SFLD%(shows the % of the shots player is fouled on), clearly Millsap gets to the line more than Portis. One of the reason for this is likely speed. Millsap blows by his man more, which causes defenders to foul him more than they would with Portis. Defenders are caught out of position more guarding Millsap. This is important because neither are great shooters. Not just relying on shooing and being able to get to the line produces more consistent numbers, which has helped Millsap put up All-Star numbers.
But one advantage Bobby Portis has over Millsap is offensive rebounding. Portis offensive rebounds 10% of his team’s misses, which is way above average for his position. Being able to rebound and get easy baskets should help Portis, but he needs to get better around the rim. You saw as we talked earlier, Portis doesn’t finish well around the rim. But why is that? It seems to me it is mainly a lack of explosion. He is athletic but just not explosive. He also struggles to finish over players with similar or longer height. Here are a few examples of this:
I don’t expect Portis to ever become great under the rim, or even good. But he needs to get closer to average for his position. Getting stronger, working on jumping, and getting better footwork will help Portis. I also think getting more comfortable with his left will help a lot. Portis at times forces shots with his right, when the shot would be easier with his left. Working on these little things can get Portis 2-6 extra points a game.
I think the potential for Portis to become good offensively is there. The things I would like to see Portis improve is his shooting, footwork down low, his left hand, his strength, jumping, and offensive awareness.
I think Portis can become a better shooter than Millsap. He is a better free throw shooter, and I do believe Portis has a nice shot. I think the more he works on his shot, he can become closer to a 38%-40% shooter from distance. Footwork down low can improve which ties in with his left. Portis most of time is looking to finish right. All his set up moves in the post are to set him up going right. Defenders know this and will play him that way, getting them to respect his left will only help his game. Getting stronger comes with age, and the stronger Portis becomes the more separation he will be able to get for his shot down low. And just offensive awareness but more so his shot IQ. This has improved but still needs work. Portis at times settles for bad shots. Contested 3’s or just quick 3’s in general. Usually experience will fix this, Portis just needs to learn what a good shot is and when it’s better to just pass the ball.
If I had to guess I don’t think Portis will ever become an All-Star but I do think he will become a good offensive player teams can rely on. Portis has at least shown the offensive talent that can keep him around the NBA for another 5-6 seasons. Maybe more with hard work. The Bulls for now should realize they have an offensive talent in Portis, that could help their bench for a long time moving forward.