NBA

1 Big Reason Knicks Forward Bobby Portis Stood Out in His 2015 NBA Draft Class

Bobby Portis was named the 2015 SEC Player of the year. A University of Arkansas graduate, he went on to be drafted by the Chicago Bulls as the 22nd overall pick. Karl-Anthony Towns was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, but there is one big reason Portis caught the attention of reporters that year, and it goes beyond his commanding 6-foot-10 presence on the court.

Bobby Portis, from college career to the 2015 NBA draft

Bobby Portis grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. Raised by a single mother, he worked hard and focused on academics while in high school. Upon graduation, he chose to stay in his home state and play for the University of Arkansas. Portis earned a name for himself with the Razorbacks, where he averaged 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds. 

NBA analysts predicted Portis would go early in the first round of the 2015 NBA draft as a lottery pick, but he fell to the 22nd overall pick. Not landing in the top 14 reduced his earning potential by an estimated $4 million. When the Chicago Bulls grabbed him, some considered it to be the biggest steal of the night. Portis was concerned about finding his place on an established team but was on his way to the Windy City.

How Bobby Portis stood out in the 2015 NBA draft

In 2015, Portis started referring to his achievements on the court in the third person. Reporters were anxious to hear what he had to say. They couldn’t help but laugh at the ease with which this kid touted his own horn. Some NBA draft officials didn’t take kindly to his cockiness, but most found his extreme confidence refreshing. Portis kept people entertained with his colorful comments, and following the NBA draft famously told a group of reporters, “Once the time comes, I’ll show the world what Bobby Portis can do.”

Portis’ professional careerS

Beside his height, current Knicks player Bobby Portis stood out in one big way at the 2015 NBA draft.
Bobby Portis (left) reacts during a 2019 game. | Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Bobby Portis played power forward and center for the Chicago Bulls for his first three-plus seasons in the NBA from 2015 to 2019. Despite his hard work and positive attitude, he spent a lot of time riding the bench. In his rookie year, he played in 62 games but only started in four, and playing an average of 18 minutes per game. 

Portis persevered, confident he would get the chance to prove himself. Fans started a rallying cry on Twitter, #FreeBobbyPortis, hoping he would start seeing more playing time.

He missed the start of the 2017-18 season, due to an eight-game suspension for fighting with teammate Nikola Mirotic. Portis came back more determined than ever and played in 73 games that season, averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds. He still struggled defensively but made up for it with his size. His points-per-game and three-point percentage increased.

Portis rejected a $40-50 million extension offer from the Chicago Bulls last fall, which started his exodus from Chicago. In early 2019, the Bulls traded Portis to the Washington Wizards. 

Portis never found his rhythm with the Wizards, but he signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Knicks during the frantic 2019 NBA free agency period. He is playing better than ever, with a career-high average of 14 points and seven rebounds. New York fans are thrilled to see Portis wearing a Knicks jersey. At a recent game in Madison Square Garden, against the Bulls, fans chanted his name, much to his delight. Portis played an incredible game that night, scoring 28 points as fans went wild. The side-eye looks he was throwing at the Bulls bench did not go unnoticed. The next day, media outlets agreed that this was the ultimate revenge match for Bobby Portis.