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How Good Can Chicago Bulls' Super-Prospect Nikola Mirotic Be in the NBA?

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How Good Can Chicago Bulls' Super-Prospect Nikola Mirotic Be in the NBA?
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

It's easy to forget the Chicago Bulls have a good-looking player just seasoning over in Europe. Nikola Mirotic, the No. 23 pick in the 2011 NBA draft, has been absolutely tearing it up. 

Last season, Mirotic was named MVP of the Spanish ACB after playing a significant role in Real Madrid's league-championship run. His numbers are even better this year, while his team is staring at an 8-0 record. 

Mirotic has played 15 games so far between the Spanish ACB and Euroleague, averaging around 15 points per game against excellent international competition. And after this season, the Bulls will have the chance to bring him over for a price. 

Take a look at the damage he's doing for Real Madrid this year (stats via Eurobasket.com):

Nikola Mirotic Field-Goal Percentage Points per game Rebounds per game 3PTM-A Free-Throw Percentage
Spanish ACB/Euroleague .594 15.4 6.1 20-40 .797

 

If you're looking for a player comparison, Mirotic fits the mold of New Orleans' Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson.

At 6'10'', Mirotic's core strength is his outside shooting and polished perimeter-scoring repertoire. He's made 20-of-40 from downtown so far this year, with 14 of those makes coming on just 20 attempts in Euroleague play. 

Spot-up shooting, pick-and-pops, step-back jumpers—when Mirotic has the chance to set his feet, he's able to lock in with the rim anywhere from mid-to-long range. 


He's the type of guy that every point guard or interior big man likes to have in the lineup. Mirotic's ability to stretch the floor and run it causes problems for opposing forwards, while his offensive instincts inside the arc make up for some athletic limitations. 

Not only has Mirotic been lights out from three-point land, he's also made 62.9 percent of his two-pointers in the Spanish ACB and 63.9 percent of them in Euroleague

Mirotic might not be the most mesmerizing athlete, but he's not exactly trapped in a straitjacket out there.

He's deceptively crafty and light on his feet, with the mobility to play up-tempo or in the half court. 

Mirotic gets up and down in transition, yet shows the footwork to bob and weave when the game slows down.

He's awfully clever in the post or around the basket in space. Mirotic finds ways to separate just enough to find that opening, where he's able to finish at awkward angles under the rim.

Though he's not going to give you the interior presence of a Carlos Boozer or the lockdown defense of a Luol Deng, Mirotic's high basketball IQ and motor diminish the concern over his lack of strength and athleticism. 

As a result of effort and smarts, he's averaging two offensive boards and 1.3 steals a game in both the Spanish ACB and Euroleague.

His efficient approach and offensive strengths should translate nicely in a complementary role. I wouldn't bet on any All-Star appearances, but he's a guy who can get you a bucket without holding the ball or disrupting the team's rhythm. With Mirotic, you pretty much know what you're going to get every night, and that plays to his value to a team. 

An excellent shooter, efficient scorer, competitive defender and all-around smart player, Mirotic should have the chance to excel as a guy who isn't the primary focus of the defense's attention. I'm thinking by the time he hits his prime, Mirotic could be a 15-point-per-game scorer as a stretch 4 for the Bulls. 

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