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Why Otto Porter Jr. is the Most Important Bull

Chicago has stacked up some nice young pieces over the years. The most important piece is Otto Porter Jr. Going forward, they’ll look to him to be the veteran leader that guides them to the playoffs after a two-year drought.

Clearly, Otto Porter Jr. isn’t the best player on the Chicago Bulls. However, he is a viable piece to this team and will be of significant importance going forward.

Here’s why.

Prior to the All-Star break a season ago, the Chicago Bulls began their free agency process — months before the official time period. After much consideration, the Bulls front office wisely realized that their appeal to free agents was abysmal and, ultimately, decided to acquire a player via trade.

John Paxson and Gar Forman knowingly agreed to a deal with the understanding that it would sacrifice their opportunity to reel in a player from the star-studded free agent pool.

They dealt away fan-favorite Bobby Portis and Chicago native Jabari Parker. In return, they welcomed Otto Porter Jr. to the Windy City from the Washington Wizards.

In my opinion, this acquisition set the tone for the direction that management wanted to head in. It not only addressed a glaring need but also displayed their desire to finally play winning basketball.

The 6’8″ forward’s impact was noticed immediately. In 15 games, Otto Porter averaged 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 48 percent shooting from the field, and 48 percent from three. In that span, the Chicago Bulls went 7-8 while unveiling their untapped potential and completing their best stretch of basketball. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen benefited the most from the addition of Porter Jr.

OPJ’s insertion to the roster allowed the Bulls to finally be able to space the floor with a reliable three-point shooter. Porter is a career 40 percent shooter and teams are aware of his talent beyond the arc. His ability to stretch the floor allowed the Bulls to open up driving lanes and prevent their stars from being double-teamed.

Markkanen and LaVine took full advantage of the opportunity that was given to them. In the month of February, Markkanen averaged 26.5 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 49 percent overall and 38 percent from downtown.

LaVine participated in the fun as well. In a 10-game stretch, he averaged 27.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists. Additionally, he shot an efficient 48 percent from beyond the arc.

The former Georgetown Hoya proved to be a critical component in Chicago’s success and, more importantly, to their young talent. With that being said, OPJ has proven that he can maximize the skill set of each player by just being featured on the court.

Along with his unseen intangibles, Otto still had himself an impressive run and balled out. In his first five games with the Bulls, he averaged 21.4 points and shot 56 percent from three. He scored more than 30 twice and posted a career-high against the Memphis Grizzlies, a game in which he poured in 37 points on 16-for-20 shooting.

Not only do his skills greatly impact the Bulls, but his veteran leadership along with his winning mentality resonated throughout the locker room. At only 26-years-old, Otto Porter Jr. has risen to become a leader for this squad, and they’ll heavily depend on him on and off the court going forward.

The Chicago Bulls possess a great core of young talent. They have the potential to compete and reach the playoffs this upcoming season. Otto Porter Jr. must remain healthy for the majority of the season due to a lack of wing depth and his importance to the team. He will be the “glue guy” that holds this team together while competing for the postseason.


Featured Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports

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