Chicago Bulls: A problem at power forward?

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 26: Lauri Markkanen
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 26: Lauri Markkanen /

The off-court issues between Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic have been well documented, however, there are some questions as to what they should as the season progresses.

Joining the Chicago Bulls in 2014, Nikola Mirotic played in all 82 games his rookie year. Though his minutes were constantly fluctuating. It was clear his strong suit was his ability to shoot the three-point ball.

Bobby Portis was the SEC player of the year coming out of Arkansas, and a presumed lottery pick. On draft night, however, he fell to the Bears 22nd overall pick. Even while showing his deep ball ability, and better awareness in the paint, Portis couldn’t jump Mirotic on the depth chart.

Portis showed versatility while playing center in the Bulls 2016 Summer League championship run. Mirotic, though, had been a different story.

While big and proficient on offense, he didn’t have the strength to guard bigger forwards, he also didn’t have the speed nor shiftiness to cover small forwards and shooting guards.

While both are starting-caliber players, add rookie Lauri Markkanen to the mix, there’s a bit of a “too much of a good thing” starting to develop.

In the aftermath of the Portis-Mirotic incident, Markkanen was forced into the starting role with Mirotic hurt and Portis suspended. As it turned out, Markkanen has been playing superbly.

What’s the latest?

It seemed as though the Bulls were moving on from Mirotic this summer, only to resign him a month before the season opener. He had been adding weight in the offseason, although the effects that would have on his play remains to be seen.

Another weighing question was Bobby Portis’ 4th-year team option on his contract. With the deadline approaching, the Bulls eventually picked up his contract on October 27th. Four games into his eight-game suspension.

Going into the opener, rookie Lauri Markkanen wasn’t just the starter; he was the team’s only available power forward.

Not just playing well, but consistently well, Markkanen hasn’t let go of the starting spot. That has led Portis beginning his season coming off the bench, although he’s been playing well in his own right.

Markkanen’s been playing so well, head coach Fred Hoiberg stated the rookie will be the starter “going forward” even after Mirotic is cleared to play.

What do the Chicago Bulls do next?

There’s no logical reason for Mirotic to finish this season in Chicago. Even if he does, there’s a team option next Summer that should not be picked up. If the Bulls can get anything for Mirotic before the trade deadline, they should get it.

At some point, Bobby Portis will start for the Bulls this season. He may not be on par with Markkanen beyond the arc, but he can finish in the Portis. Bobby also has some defense in his game, which the rookie will need to develop.

Next: Lauri Markkanen proves himself for Chicago Bulls

I didn’t even mention Cristiano Felicio’s ability to play the position, but Hoiberg likes him more at the center spot.

Regardless of who starts, though, Markkanen and Portis have what it takes to become a really nice duo at the “four” spot. Whether Mirotic lasts or not will be an interesting thread to follow.