Last February, the Chicago Bulls thought they had unexpectedly solved the small forward position when Otto Porter became available. Media and fans praised management for what initially seemed like a great move.
At that time Gar Forman said ““We are excited to add Otto Porter to our team. During his time in the NBA, Otto has proven to be a terrific three-point shooter., while also being very efficient. While in his sixth pro season, he is only 25 years old and is someone who will be a good fit for our team moving forward”.
That only happened due to a season ending injury to John Wall, who the Wizards had $38 million invested in for the current season. Washington needed to shed salary in order to fill out a roster that will be missing their number one player. So they took on the expiring contracts of Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker.
Oh, the irony of the bouncing basketball.
Porter has played in only nine games so far this year and the Bulls rebuild has seemed to take a step backwards in the process. Now it’s Chicago stuck with a big contract and looking for the best ways to round out a roster that will capitalize on the growth of Lauri Makkanen, Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter, Coby White and Daniel Gafford.
The Bulls went 3-6 in the nine games Porter played. They looked out of sync, unable to grasp both the trapping defense and the floor spacing offense head coach Jim Boylen was preaching. They lost easily winnable games against Charlotte, Cleveland and New York.
Porter did not play well averaging only 11.2 points and 3.4 rebounds. Markkanen was perhaps even worse, unable to garner 20 points after hitting 35 on opening night.
Game after game Boylen would emphasize that the Bulls are learning and will grow from it. Unfortunately when a player is not on the floor, that player can do neither. More so, the team was not only adjusting to new systems, but had to develop a rhythm and the highest paid piece was missing.
Chandler Hutchison, an unproven second year player with an injury history of his own was next up. That did not last long however because the expected injury to him happened. The unprepared Bulls and their subsequent Shag Harrison experiment at small forward ended a ten game stretch with a 3-7 record.
Then “SuperDawg” Kris Dunn arrived to save the day and maybe a few jobs. In the fifteen games since the Dawg was inserted into the starting small forward position, the Bulls have gone 7-8.
Zach and Lauri have also come alive, showing maturity and defense not seen before. A cohesion has developed and everyone seems to be learning their role.
One problem though. Kris Dunn is not a true small forward. Kris Dunn is not under contract for next year. The plan was always to keep him until the trade deadline and hope his value increases. Well, “Praise the Lord” because it has and the offers should be coming.
The Bulls would be wise to trade Dunn before the February 6th trade deadline and get a piece back for him that can ensure more depth at small forward for next year. At this point, Otto Porter may only turn out to be the Bulls version of John Wall.