Whether fair or not, my brain automatically puts a draft prospect into a particular role once I watch enough film of him. A couple months ago I mentioned Wisconsin stud Frank Kaminsky, who would make for the perfect 3rd big inside Utah’s rotation based solely on his ability to stretch the floor. That thought process has returned with Bobby Portis, someone I instantly think of becoming a fantastic role player.
And although that role definitely could have some negative connotations, it shouldn’t mean that Portis won’t spend his career as an impactful NBA player. To the contrary, as you’re about to find out, Portis has the skill set to remain as an important NBA player for years to come.
When you look at Portis’ overall game, what stands out is the offensive end. During his final season with Arkansas, Portis averaged 23.4 points per 40 minutes, which would put him 3rd among prospects that will be part of the NBA draft. Add his impressive 58% TS%, and you have the makings of one of the elite offensive players in college basketball.
The biggest reason for that accomplishment was how perfect he was as a pick-and-roll big, exhibiting the two most important qualities for that kind of player: having a mid-range/perimeter jumper and being able to drive to the rim. Although his shooting stroke isn’t exactly the prettiest thing in the world, Portis stood as a pretty solid shooter, converting 43% from 17 feet to the three-point line. Portis only had 30 three-point attempts during his sophomore season, but he shot an impressive 47% from beyond the arc.
While he isn’t the flashiest ball-handler, Portis was able to be an effective roll man based primarily on his quickness and energy. For his size (6’11, 245 pounds), Portis is an extremely quick player, able to drive past a majority of opponents. Even when he’s working against more athletic players, Portis is seemingly able to will his way past the opponents to create baskets and free-throws.
That tremendous energy allowed Portis to be one of the best offensive rebounders in the entire country. During that sophomore season, Portis averaged 3.6 offensive boards per game, which was the highest rebound total among draft-eligible prospects. Alongside that energy, Portis really has a tremendous nose for the ball, seemingly always in the perfect position to at least make a play for the ball.
The one area of Portis’ offensive game that’s in need of some work would be in the post. While he can work off the right block, Portis doesn’t look too comfortable when he’s posting up on an opponent. That discomfort could definitely fade away as he continues developing, as he won’t turn 21 until midway through his rookie season.
Transitioning over to the defensive end, the sheer energy that Portis exhibits allows him to defend multiple positions. Portis isn’t afraid to work on the perimeter and defend against wings or forwards, which he actually does a pretty good job of. Portis also has the size and strength to contain himself against some of college basketball’s finest bigs.
Although Portis doesn’t really excel at any particular aspect, he can immediately contribute in a lot of different ways, which is pretty much all you could ask for out of a player that’s projected to be picked between the late-lotto to early 20’s.
While there are definitely better players the Jazz could draft with their 12th pick, Portis would be a fine secondary option. He could be a perfect fit for the role that Trevor Booker played last season. Similar to Booker, Portis is a high-energy big that can spread the floor, and his versatility on the defensive end would allow him to be a nice companion alongside either Rudy Gobert or Derrick Favors.