BallinEurope’s man in England, Sam Chadwick, today takes a look at the recent performance and future prospects of one of his new favorite players (What can BiE say? Chadwick’s a Chicago Bulls fan): No. 23 overall 2011 NBA draft pick and current Real Madrid basketballero Nikola Mirotic.
Name: Nikola Mirotic
Club: Real Madrid
Height: 6’9” (2.09 meters)
Age: 20 (born in February 1991)
As a Bulls fan, I’m happy the NBA Draft happened when it did; back then, people had lots of question marks surrounding Mirotic as to whether he was ready, if he was a complete player, if he needed time to develop, if he could come in and contribute in two to three seasons’ worth of time when he’s ready… If the draft were held today, Nikola would be a lottery pick.
For those of who you who missed it, Mirotic completely dominated the recent FIBA U20 European Championship Division A, leading Spain to a gold medal on its home soil; he did so by averaging 27 points per outing to go along with 10 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 assists. He shot 59.5% from the field including 63.4% inside the arc and 40% on threes. His 85.1% from the charity stripe was the second-best percentage in the tournament and his ability to get to the line was unmatched, a trait that should carry over to the NBA.
For a guy his size, I’m quite impressed with the above shooting percentages; 63.4% on two-point field goal percentage is very solid and his 40% is nothing to laugh about — it’s not like he went 4-of-10: He made 10-of-25 long balls in the tournament and against Ukraine he managed a 4-for-4 performance. His 85.1% from the line including three games of 100%, including the final in which he nailed all eight free throws attempted against Italy, was nothing short of extremely impressive.
Mirotic’s rebounding numbers are also pretty promising with a total of 10 per game; broken down into 3.3 offensive and 6.4 defensive boards for a Bulls squad that loves suffocating opponents on the glass, he will complement the team’s current rebounders well.
I find it hard to see any negatives in his game, as his 1.6 turnovers don’t send off any signals of poor hands and his 1.8 personal fouls per game show that he isn’t trying to swat every single shot into the bleachers.
The fact that the Bulls can either allow him to develop in Europe for another one, two or even three seasons means that if and when Taj Gibson’s contract is up and they can’t afford to bring him back (thanks to Carlos Boozer’s fat contract), then Mirotic will be able to come in and contribute. The other bonus for Chicago is that they can bring him in right now: While he would play limited minutes because of Boozer, Gibson, Joakim Noah and Omer Asik, if needed, Mirotic is ready.
Whenever the NBA lockout ends, the Bulls will be competitive in 2011-12 — maybe even the year they win a championship; if Nikola can come in and contribute to this team and grab a championship in his rookie season then great, if not then he can do it next year or the year after. With how talented Mirotic is and how talented this Chicago Bulls team is, an NBA Championship is something Nikola can someday add to his U20 FIBA European Championship.
Sam Chadwick is a university student, part-time sportswriter and a coach in the Solent Kestrels organization.