It was the punch heard around the basketball world. Last season during a scrimmage in training camp, Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic were involved in a physical altercation, that resulted in Portis landing a punch that not only KO’d Mirotic, but fractured his face and leaving him with a concussion. Portis was suspended 8 games for this incident.

Portis took accountability and apologized for his role in the altercation to his teammates, the Bulls organization and fan base, as well as Niko, and displayed the willingness to move past the altercation. But it was clear that one of these men, who played the same position and were competing with each other for playing time had to go. Mirotic was that man, as he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.

At the beginning of last season, Niko was penciled in as the starting power forward, with Portis as his back up and very few mins to be allotted to rookie Lauri Markkanen. Due to Portis’s suspension and Niko’s injury. Markkanen was thrust into the starting role. Markkanen’s stellar play has kept him in the starting role.

But Portis is entirely at peace with being the first man off the bench. Bobby had himself a career year last season. He averaged 13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds while shooting 47% from the field and 36% from behind the line. He set his career high for scoring in a game against Philadelphia last February, scorching the 76ers for 38 points.

BP carried the same intensity and fire from his altercation with Niko, with his play all of last season and looks to continue the trend this season. Portis has stated his desire to be named Sixth Man of the Year. He should definitely have a shot at achieving his goal, as the first man off the bench.

Portis will be counted on to bring intensity and provide a spark for the Bulls reserves. With his continued improved shooting from long range, Bobby should have no problem maintaining last years success with providing scoring off the bench. He will also need to provide that same fire on the defensive end, as his primary concern, along with the rest of the team, is defense.

This team will have to obtain some wins via shootout, and Portis will look to play a major key in that, as he has led the Bulls in scoring through their first two preseason games of the season with 21, and 17 points respectively.

Portis is also due for a contract extension, which the front office hopes to have signed him to before the season. It would be a wise move for the Bulls to make sure, that the man with the “crazy eyes” is in Bulls red for a few seasons to come.

Photo: Chicago Bulls Twitter
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