Posts tagged Nikola Mirotic
No clear winner in Niko Mirotic deal

Niko Mirotic is set to make his debut tonight after the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans made a deal to send Mirotic and a second-round pick to the Big Easy in return for a top-5 protected 2018 first-round pick, Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen.

Many Bulls fans were happy with the news. Getting a first round pick for the much beleaguered Mirotic seems like a step in the right direction for a rebuilding team.

See, the problem for me is I’m not as high on this trade as other Bulls fans.

Before I tell you why, let me first get a few things out of the way.

First, I get it. Niko didn’t have many fans. He was marketed to Bulls fans as a high-level player coming from Europe who, when he got here in 2014, would be a key piece on Bulls team trying to get back to a championship level.

Niko largely disappointed us on that front. He had one good month in March 2015, after Jimmy Butler went down due to injury, and he became the focus of the offense.

From there he was inconsistent, showing up for a stretch of games then disappearing for others.

Things only got worse at the start of this season when teammate Bobby Portis punched him in the face, broke that face, and Niko was out for the first 23 games of the season.

After Niko returned, the Bulls went on a seven-game winning streak, much to the disappointment of some Bulls as it appeared Niko was hurting the much-anticipated tank season - another reason to dislike Niko.

“Oh so nowwww you want to play well,” almost all Bulls fans thought as Niko averaged 16.8 ppg on 47 percent shooting in his last 25 games as a Bull.

So again, I get why Bulls fans are happy to see him go.

Additionally, if the Bulls, who are currently 18-32, continue to drop in the standings and the Pelicans, who are currently 28-23, fall out of the playoffs the Bulls could end up with two lottery picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.

I can hear you guys saying now, “What’s the problem Rob, this all sounds great.”

The problem is the Pelicans won last night, are 28-23, and barring an injury to Anthony Davis, are probably making the playoffs.

If the Pelicans make the postseason, that pick falls out of the lottery. Then the question becomes: Will whoever we draft be better than Niko Mirotic is now?

While many Bulls fans love to focus on how annoying and disappointing Niko was, they fail to see just how good he’d been this year.

In Niko’s first three seasons, he’d been relegated to spot up shooting. With guys like Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade on the team throughout those three years,  there wasn’t much room for head coach Fred Hoiberg’s pace-and-space offense or much ball movement. That’s changed this season, and Niko has taken advantage of it.

According to NBA.com, this year 87% of Niko’s made three pointers have been assisted, the lowest of his career - meaning he’s making more three’s off the dribble.

Also, just because Niko’s making less threes off the pass this season, doesn’t mean he’s taking and making less threes overall.

He’s attempting six threes a game this season, the most of his career, while shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc - the highest percentage of his career.

Niko is also more than a three point shooter. He’s made 10 percent of his points there years from mid-range - again the highest percentage of his career.

Also, according to Cleaning the Glass, he’s made 67 percent of the shot’s he’s taken at the rim which, you guessed it, is the highest percentage of his career.

Niko has also cut out the stupid pump fake. You know the one where he pump fakes, and then throws his entire body into the defender looking to draw a foul?

Nope, this season he’s pump faking with purpose. (That sounds like a chapter in a basketball/life coaching book. “Pump Faking with Purpose: How to Maneuver Past Your Haters on Your Drive to the Basket of Success.”)

Anyway, Niko is now using the pump fake to get into positions where he can either take an open shot or drive to the basket.

Then there’s Niko’s place on this team.

Despite Niko’s fight with Bobby the two actually played well on the court together. The Bulls had two guys, coming off the bench, who could find each other for open shots, shoot the three, and worked on hard on the glass.

If you take out Bobby and replace him with Lauri Markkanen(congrats on your first born son by the way, Lauri Bird) then you have two elite three point shooters who can handle the ball, are good passers, play defense and rebound.

Can you guarantee whoever you draft in the mid to late firstround will play well with Lauri like Niko does? The answer is no.

Imagine the Bulls frontcourt if they didn’t trade Niko and they took either DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, or Jaren Jackson Jr. with that first pick.

According to NBADraft.net, the Bulls are currently slated to take Jackson Jr. with the sixth pick.

The Bulls would have four big men who could dribble, shoot and, for the most part, pass the ball.

We’d win the frontcourt battle almost every night -with the starters and off the bench.

Also, Niko’s only 27-years old. His game isn’t predicated on athleticism which means that game will grow nicely as he gets older.

Again Bulls fans I get it, you didn’t like Niko. But despite your feelings for him, you better hope whoever the Bulls draft with the Pelicans’ pick, fits with this team as well as Niko did.

The price is right: why the Bulls need to move Nikola Mirotic
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Hello Bulls fans,

There have been several reports that surfaced saying Nikola Mirotic will be traded sooner than later. After his fight with Bobby Portis before the start of the season there was no possible way these two can coexist on the same team right? Well after Bobby returned from his suspension and once Nikola fully recovered from being punched in the face, the two gave the Bulls a boost out of the Eastern Conference cellar.

It’s abundantly clear the Chicago Bulls are in full rebuild mode and are trying to secure a high draft assets in teh future. This upcoming draft is being compared to the 2003 draft class that had the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chis Bosh picked in the top 5. If the hype is real then it would be wise to try and be in a position to secure a top 5 pick in 2018. Mirotic has been playing very well since coming back from injury; in fact some would say he’s playing like how the franchise envisioned he would play when they brought him from overseas a few years ago.

During the 2011 NBA Draft the Bulls took guard Norris Cole at No. 28, but traded him and the No. 43 pick (UCLA guard Malcolm Lee) to Minnesota for the rights to Mirotic, whom Houston took at No. 23 and had dealt to the Timberwolves. It's ironic that we finessed Minnesota on draft night on more than one occasion. Bulls general manager Gar Forman said the organization would have no problem keeping a player in Europe for a few years to develop before bringing him over to play with the organization.

Mirotic started off slow when he began with the Bulls in 2014, but he ended up having a pretty good debut year,  finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Andrew Wiggins. He averaged a mere 10 points a game that season but led the NBA in scoring in the 4th quarter during the month of March. He also averaged 20 points a game that month.

His 2015 and 2016 seasons were both inconsistent to say the least, and those inconsistencies have followed him throughout his Bulls career. The Bulls were in need of a dynamic scoring option at the power forward position to keep up with new style of play in the NBA, but Mirotic never blossomed into a reliable scoring option.

It would be very wise for the Bulls to move on from him now while he’s actually on a hot streak. Yes the team is playing well with him and it’s exciting to watch, but history tends to repeat itself. The Utah Jazz are reportedly very interested in making a deal for Nikola Mirotic, so are the Pistons according to NY Times writer Marc Stein. and this might be a great way to get some good value for a player who is playing at a peak level currently. This is also a good way to ensure the tank continues for one of the top 5 picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.

How this year's Bulls differ from last year's team
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Hello Bulls fans,

It’s been an interesting year for our beloved Chicago Bulls to say the least. A lot of people believed this team wouldn’t win more than 20 games this season once they traded Jimmy Butler. The move signified the franchise was moving in the direction of a long and tedious rebuild. If this is the case, then how does a team in year one of a rebuild have a better record than the Lakers - a team in year 4 of their rebuild?

After the summer 2016 trade of Derrick Rose to the NY Knicks, the assumption was the Bulls were in rebuild mode.  The moves that followed - signing Rajon Rondo, and then Dwyane Wade - was a little confusing to the Bulls fan base. The idea was that the three "alphas" in Butler, Rondo and Wade would make the Bulls a playoff team and surprise contender.

But Fred Hoiberg was way over his head and didn’t have the players necessary to run his offensive system, or that respected him as a head coach. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler were both used to Tom Thibodeau's system. Rondo and Wade both won championships so they had little to no respect for a young head coach like Hoiberg. The product on the court showed that these players were not willing to buy in on what was being sold from the staff. Hoiberg’s system requires guards that can consistently shoot the three, and he didn’t have that in Rondo and Wade. The 2016-17 Chicago Bulls somehow squeezed into the east playoffs as the 8th seed. The team overachieved and went up 2-0 against the Boston Celtics but proceeded to lose 4 in a row once Rondo went down with an injury.

The following off-season bore the changes that were believed to be necessary the year prior. The Bulls sent Butler and their first round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the 7th overall pick in that year's draft, which they used to pick Lauri Markkanen. Bulls fans unfairly criticized Gar Forman and John Paxson for the move, but I personally loved it, and the direction the team should’ve elected to go in a while ago. The Bulls were stuck in the perpetual cycle of not being good enough to win, but not being bad enough to get a top lottery pick. In this instance the patience to make the deal yielded a bigger haul for GarPax. It was believed that draft night 2016 the Bulls were willing to trade Butler to Minnesota for the 5th overall pick to take Dunn to make him the point guard of the future. The patience allowed us to not only bring in Dunn but also Lauri Markkanen who has shown the ability to play at a high level at just 20 years old.

The 2017 Chicago Bulls started off a bit rocky. A skirmish between Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis led to Niko being hospitalized and Bobby being suspended by the organization. The silver lining of this event is that it allowed Hoiberg to start Markkanen at power forward to get a good look at the rookie under the lights. Markkanen didn’t disappoint, setting a record for most 3-pointers made in a rookie’s first six games in the NBA. With a quick release and the confidence to shoot without hesitation, Lauri is a lethal weapon in the pick and pop game.

Dunn was thrusted into a starting role because of the inept play of Jerian Grant. The playing time he has received has caused him to not only develop better as an pro point guard, but also allowed him to gain confidence. I knew Dunn took that next step with his confidence when he hit crossed over an Indiana Pacer en route to a game winning shot and yelled out “F#$k him”.

The player considered at the time to be the best player acquired in the trade - Zach Lavine - has yet to step on the floor this season thanks to injury. He's a legit scoring threat and a very good fit for what the Chicago Bulls are missing right now.

This young Bulls roster bought in to Hoiberg’s system and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. It’s quite enjoyable to see cohesive basketball being played with young players who are deemed the future of the franchise. There isn’t much standing around like last year with the older veterans who didn’t feel it necessary to listen to a head coach or play within his scheme. In most instances, veterans don’t respect younger unproven coaches and that was abundantly clear with the previous core. With how they're playing as a unit and also developing, this team is a more enjoyable product than what we were exposed to.