CHICAGO – A player entering his seventh season in the NBA gets into that range where they can be called a “veteran” of the league. How much can sometimes depend on the makeup of a particular roster.
On this young and still rebuilding Bulls team, he’s one of the older guys in the room that a number of players look up to.
It’s a little bit different from the situation that Porter was in when he was in Washington the first five-and-a-half years of his career. But his trade last winter to the Bulls makes him one of the leaders in a young team still findings its way on the court.
Ottos’ a veteran player, and during the end of last year, the offseason, along with the start of training camp, he’s embraced it.
“We need veteran leadership because we’ve been there and done this,” said Porter. “To show the guys how to be professional and how to go about their business.”
Coming into this season, Porter is the fourth-oldest player on the team and third among the regular contributors in the lineup. Two of the players older than him – Thaddeus Young (31) and Tomas Satoransky (27) – were acquired this offseason. Cristiano Felicio is 27 with Porter coming in at 26, and he’s more than ready to embrace the role as a leader.
“It starts at the top, and we want to set a good example,” said Porter.
So where does he start? Being open to teaching from Jim Boylen and his staff.
“That’s being professional, being coachable. I think that’s the biggest thing – especially with the younger guys; learning is the biggest thing you can do right now,” said Porter. “Just being coachable, being professional. That’s our job and that’s what we come here to do.”
If he can accomplish that, perhaps he can cultivate the culture which may help the Bulls live up to the goal of the playoffs set for them by team executive vice president John Paxson. Porter referenced his four runs to the playoffs in Washington as to why bringing the group together as a unit can pay off late in the season.
“All the teams that we’ve been on when we’ve made the playoffs, we were in good position. We were good mentally and we had a lot of chemistry. That was the biggest thing,” said Porter.
Of course, the forward’s got to take care of his share of the scoring, too. He was averaging 17.5 points per game in his first 15 contests for the Bulls before shoulder surgery shut him down early. If the team is to make any run at the NBA Playoffs after a 22-win season, they’ll need Porter at his best.
“Just make sure my head is good throughout the whole season,” said Porter. “There’s a lot of ups and downs; make sure I’m healthy, mentally and physically.”
For a veteran player, he’ll need both on this team.