On June 23, 2011, with the 23rd pick in the NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls selected Nikola Mirotic. Without ever having stepped onto an NBA court, the 22 year old Spaniard of Montenegrin decent has become one of the most hyped names in basketball. Every time a trade rumor pops up online about the Bulls, Mirotic is inevitably mentioned as a huge cog in a deal that could theoretically send a big time talent back to the Windy City. So what’s all the excitement about?
Mirotic currently plays for Real Madrid, the same team he began his professional career with. In his first season playing professionally, Mirotic won the Euroleague Rising Star award. This type of early buzz is what led the Bulls to spend an incredibly valuable first round pick on a player they knew wouldn’t come to the States for several years.
Mirotic is listed at 6’10” and his natural position is power forward. But he’s not a traditional big guy who is wary about leaving the paint on offense. Mirotic is an accomplished shooter who has averaged about 37% on his three pointers during his brief career. The stretch four is the hottest commodity in the NBA. With the rise of the statistical revolution, the emphasis on the three point shot has greatly increased (for those wondering why, 3>2). Mirotic, while still very young, inevitably will draw some comparisons to German superstar Dirk Nowitzki, the prototype of the stretch four and the guy who paved the way for big European shooters to make their presence felt in the NBA.
Many people believe that the Bulls will be very reluctant to part ways with Mirotic, despite the fact he has been completely untested by the best competition in the world. The Bulls likely view Mirotic as the long term replacement for Carlos Boozer once his contract either runs out or he is released via the amnesty provision. Mirotic would act as an ideal foil to the defense first Taj Gibson and could likely slide over to the five if necessary for stretches of games simply because Taj is such an animal on defense. Mirotic is also likely to be on the receiving end of many a drive and kick from Derrick Rose, who will in turn appreciate less traffic in the lane thanks to the shooting prowess of Mirotic.
Unfortunately for Bulls fans, Mirotic is unlikely to come across the ocean anytime soon. His current contract in Spain pays him more than what he is allotted due to his draft slotting. He also would cost quite a bit to buy out from his Real Madrid contract, a fee Bulls owner Jerry Reisndorf is unwilling to pay.
Whenever he gets here, it will hopefully be well worth the wait. With DRose entering his prime years, Mirotic looks to be a key cog in the long term success of the Chicago Bulls.