Nikola Mirotic's offense has been inconsistent this season, there's no other way to really put it at this point. After three tremendous games to start the season, Niko's been somewhat of an enigma for the Bulls. But if there's one thing that has been consistent with Niko offensively thus far, it's been his understanding and execution of drag screens.
Previously, I went in-depth about the Bulls need for more drag screens as a way to get guys like Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose going downhill, but to also jump start offense in the halfcourt. It's still been hit or miss with the Bulls big men and the frequency with which they do set drag screens. Though Nikola Mirotic, out of all of the Bulls bigs, has the understanding of how setting such screens can open up opportunities for not only the ball-handler, but himself too. In the first half of Monday's afternoon matinee against Detroit, Niko showcased his understanding.
As brooks comes down with the ball, Niko sees a perfect opportunity to set a drag screen. Although he doesn't make great contact on Reggie Jackson, Niko makes just enough that it frees Brooks with a head of steam going downhill on Ersan Ilysova.
With second quarter underway, Niko went into the drag screen action on three consecutive plays, each of those resulting in points for the Bulls.
On the first of three straight possessions, instead of actually setting the drag screen, Niko slips and rolls to the basket. Anthony Tolliver, helping Brandon Jennings on the screen, doesn't realize Niko has slipped, while Aron Baynes rotates far too late as Mirotic converts on the layup.
And again, Niko slips the drag screen just a few seconds later:
Great read by Niko, poor defense from Detroit, yikes!
The final drag screen, the third in a matter of a minute, results in a switch defensively from Detroit, and Niko does the smart thing and attacks in the post.
When Niko sets the drag screen, Tolliver and Jennings (notice a theme here?) switch, leaving Jennings to defend Mirotic. Instead of facing up, Niko should've used his size and strength to back him down, regardless he ends up at the free throw line in the end.
Nikola Mirotic had an overall solid game last night, finishing 3-6, with 10 points and two rebounds. But with everything said about his consistency on offense, or lack thereof, this season, it's the subtle plays like setting drag screens that allow him to be a valuable player. Hopefully sooner rather than later, Niko will be able to find that coveted consistency that could make him a special player.