It has been a long-awaited arrival for Nikola Mirotic and the Chicago Bulls after they acquired him on draft night in 2011. Now, after reaching a buyout with Real Madrid and agreeing to terms with the Bulls, we will finally be able to see what he can do in the NBA.
While playing for Real Madrid in the Euroleague, Mirotic averaged 12.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 24.1 minutes while shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 46.1 from three. At 6-foot-10, 210 pounds, Mirotic will be used as a stretch four and also see time at small forward.
It is unclear how many minutes Mirotic will see as a 23-year-old rookie and it will be dependent on his transition from Europe to the NBA and how quickly he can adapt to the NBA game and his life in the United States. Luckily, he will have fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol to help him along.
The Bulls will have a deep roster this season, and Mirotic will find himself playing behind Gasol as well as Taj Gibson. At small forward, Mike Dunleavy will likely start with Doug McDermott also receiving minutes behind him, but you can never have enough three-point shooting and that is something that Mirotic has done well in his career. However, Mirotic should not be viewed as strictly a shooter — he is also effective going to the basket and drawing fouls.
Gasol and Gibson are both capable of playing center behind All-Star Joakim Noah.The Bulls would be hard-pressed not to play Mirotic significant minutes after paying him $17 million over three years. Sure, Tom Thibodeau has been hesitant to play rookies in the past, but Mirotic isn’t just any rookie. He has been a valuable asset to the Bulls for the past three years, and their refusal to include him in any trade speaks volumes as to what they think of him. Look for him to contribute right away during his rookie campaign.