A month after Jimmy Butler was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month, fellow Bull Nikola Mirotic has been named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month.
Mirotic had trouble finding minutes early in the season when everybody was healthy, but injuries forced Tom Thibodeau's hand in about mid-November. Mirotic almost immediately proved his worth, averaging 11.7 points and 7.9 rebounds in 25.0 minutes in the last seven games of the month.
Mirotic's strong play carried over to December (obviously), and he has gotten consistent minutes even with all the bigs healthy. In December, the rookie averaged 9.9 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 43.9 percent overall and 41.2 percent from three.
December featured Mirotic's best performance of the season, a 27-point, eight-rebound effort in a huge win in Memphis. He shot 7-of-10 for the game, but the best part was the fact that he made all six of his three-point attempts.
December also featured this Mirotic awesomeness:
Mirotic's strong play has earned enough of Thibodeau's trust to give him some minutes at the small forward position. I'm really hoping this becomes a thing, and I'm really hoping it works. I would love to see a playoff closing lineup featuring Mirotic, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and either Pau Gasol or Taj Gibson. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Congrats Niko and keep it up! And don't ever shave that beard.