Photos of Bobby Portis, the Bulls’ top pick (No. 22) in the 2015 draft.
Because he is one of the game’s elite two-way players and a three-time All-Star, it may take straining the memory bank to recall that Jimmy Butler has been where Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine are.
Butler endured the occasionally limited roles and growing pains that are more common than not with young players. It’s why his perspective on how Portis and Valentine should approach the Bulls’ final 12 games is powerful.
"Say what you want to say, but when you know you can make a mistake and not look over your shoulder, it helps," Butler said. "I tell everybody, eventually you’re going to come out of the game. So you might as well go out there and just hoop. If they take you out, oh, well."
Butler didn’t mean to sound cavalier. He meant to remind that players have to play their games, work to their strengths and try to limit their weaknesses.
It’s why what Portis and Valentine said after both played the entire fourth quarter of Saturday’s victory against the Jazz is promising as the Bulls try to cling to playoff relevancy.
"Just out there being myself for a change," Portis said. "I feel like the last couple games I was just kind of hesitant to shoot. I’ve got to get that out of my system. I worry too much about shooting too much, thinking too much and not playing the game the way the game is supposed to be played. If the game says shoot, shoot. If the game says pass, pass. I was not following that."
Despite being replaced as a starter by Nikola Mirotic, Portis scored a career-high 22 points. Valentine scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth and posted his first career double-double by adding 12 rebounds. He shot 3-for-4 in the final period after a 1-for-8 start.
"My teammates did an incredible job of keeping me up and making me feel confident," Valentine said. "Jimmy and Mike (Carter-Williams) kept telling me to shoot it. When you hear that from your teammates, you know they believe in you. And that boosts your confidence."
Photos of the Bulls’ 2016 first-round draft pick.
Beyond the playoff push, the Bulls need their last two first-round picks to become reliable rotation players, if not starters, if the retooling plan is to gain traction. That’s a lot of pressure.
But hearing both players distilling the big picture to a simpler approach can perhaps be a sign of maturity.
"The biggest thing with me is to try to put two halves together and play a complete game," Portis said.
Added Valentine: "I’m just now getting on (opponents’) scouting report. Teams are running me off the 3-point line and I have to find an in-between game. But it’s going to come. I had a lot of in-between game in college. It’s going to come with more minutes."
With Dwyane Wade sidelined for the rest of the regular season, those are coming for sure for Valentine. And Portis projects to remain in the rotation despite Hoiberg saying Mirotic will start Tuesday in Toronto.
"I had a good talk with him," Hoiberg said of Portis. "I just told him I wanted to change the flow and get him back coming off the bench and get that confident, hard-playing guy that’s going to throw his body around. When you rebound and screen and hit guys, your offense tends to come. Bobby played the right way. And good things came to him.
"He and Valentine are both going to play their tails off. They are not afraid of the moment. It’s expected. Young guys in this league have ups and downs."
The Bulls are hoping for more of the former than the latter.
This article was sourced from http://halo4news.net