My naturally irrational reaction to the Bulls currently dismal situation was to immediately buy a Euroleague pass to watch all of Nikola Mirotic's games this season, in hopes that he can be a 2nd star for the Bulls. After going through Real Madrid's full games this year I have made a few observations about Nikola Mirotic's game and how he will translate to the NBA if and when the Bulls bring him over.
- Mirotic will fit in best as a small ball power forward. He has a quick release on his shot, which he can hit from anywhere on the floor when he is left open. He also has surprisingly good ball handling skills, and tends to drive towards the basket if he does not have an open shot when he gets the ball. However, he can get pushed around by larger big men, and generally he seems more comfortable on the perimeter and the high post than down low.
- His defense is a mixed bag. Mirotic is actually better on D than I thought he would be going into watching him play at length for the first time. This is especially true on the perimeter, where he does a good job of contesting 3s, rotating on pick and rolls, and staying home on open 3 point shooters when necessary. He also has active hands, and is an opportunistic shot blocker. This is in contrast to his post defense, where he can get outmaneuvered and sometimes takes poor position down low. He also has a tendency to go for the block when defending down low, which could get him into foul trouble in the NBA.
- He will be most effective in an uptempo offense or one that emphasizes ball movement. Mirotic is a dynamic offensive player overall, and his ability to stretch the floor is vital for the Bulls. However, in order to take full advantage of his offensive skills, our offense will need to move the ball quickly around the perimeter to get him open shots or driving lanes. He is fairly good at moving off the ball to find an open shot, and he runs the floor on fastbreaks well. At 6'10" he can post up smaller players, however PFs and Cs with a lot of size will be able to give him a lot of trouble around the rim.
- He is not a great rebounder. The second coming of Omer Asik is definitely not Nikola Mirotic. While he is not a bad rebounder, he doesn't blow you away by going all out for loose balls or boxing out particularly effectively. Right now he plays with larger Center who does most of the cleanup work for him. Hopefully this is something about his game that will improve via Thibs training.
- He has a very good pick and pop game. Right now a lot of Real's offense seems to be based on Mirotic and their PG doing pick and pops where Mirotic gets the ball at the top of the key. If he is open he immediately takes the shot, and most of the time drains the 3. If he is covered he drives and either passes out or gets to the rim. I could see this part of his game being especially effective when paired with Rose and to a lesser extent Jimmy.
- He is very efficient. Mirotic is not a volume shooter, and if he doesn't have a good look he will either drive to get better position, or pass. He is also a pretty good passer, and can hit cutting guards and forwards with consistency.