Why oft-injured Otto Porter Jr. is critical to Billy Donovan’s Bulls plan

Billy Donovan didn’t sugarcoat matters when the conversation turned to Otto Porter Jr.

“With the amount of time that he’s missed, certainly him being healthy is the most important thing to our team,” the Bulls’ coach said this week.

Whether or not Coby White can handle starting at point guard. Getting Lauri Markkanen back on track. Unlocking the potential of Wendell Carter Jr. Assimilating the ascension of Zach LaVine into winning basketball.

All of those, in the words of Donovan, take a back seat to keeping Porter healthy.

“I’ve always felt like even before, his time in Washington, he’s smart, he’s got a really good feel of how to play. He can make a shot, he’s a good passer,” Donovan said. “He’s just a guy that’s not been available very much since he’s been here.”

That’s an understatement. Since arriving from the Washington Wizards in the previous management regime’s trade of Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis, Porter has played in just 29 of 93 games.

That included some load management as the Bulls played out the string in 2018-19 and a broken bone in his foot last season that limited him to just 14 games.

Believe it or not, Porter, 27, averaged 76.6 games over a four-season stretch in Washington prior to the trade.

Porter’s impact when he has played is undeniable. The Bulls went 7-5 in their first 12 games after the February 2019 trade. And last season, they…

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