Nikola Mirotic, future Chicago Bull, making the Euroleague his bitch

Nikola Mirotic, future Chicago Bull, making the Euroleague his bitch
Photo courtesy Mangass/Wikimedia Commons

I'm not usually one for possibly obscene headlines, but the simple truth is that there is no other way to describe the Euroleague season Nikola Mirotic is currently having with Real Madrid.

After what is becoming an average game for Niko today- 6/7 FG (1/1 on 3's) and 4/5 FT for 17 points in 23 minutes- his 6-game Euroleague stats are unbelievable.

And I don't mean "unbelievable" as in "great", I mean as in you might think I'm making the numbers up. As in nobody should be able to put up numbers like that in the far-and-away 2nd best league in the world behind the NBA, so I must be lying to you.

These are Mirotic's current per-game stats through the first 6 rounds of Euroleague play:

22.0 mintues
14.2 points
19/26 2pt FG (73.1%)
10/15 3pt FG (66.7%)
29/41 overall FG (70.7%)
17/19 FT (89.5%)
33 rebounds (5.5 per game)
6 blocked shots (1.0 per game)
8 steals (1.33 per game)
6 assists (1.0 per game)
6 turnovers (1.0 per game)

Don't forget to throw in his unheard of eFG% of .829 and his TS% of .861, which would shatter the records of every professional league on earth. (I didn't fact check that, but trust me, those numbers are completely incomprehensible.)

Why does this matter- because the Bulls hold his NBA rights, and as of now all signs point to him becoming a Bull next summer. That's when NBA rules allow the Bulls to pay him as much as they want, instead of Mirotic being pigeonholed into the NBA's Rookie Salary Scale. (That happens 3 years after the date a player was drafted.)

Mirotic's rookie scale wage for his draft position (23rd) would have paid him not much over $1 million per year for the first 4 years of his contract, less than he makes in Europe playing for Real Madrid. The Bulls figure to have to pay him at least the Mid-Level Exception, which is just over $5 million per season for next year.

But don't be surprised if it costs them more to get Niko into Bulls red- he's well on his way to being named Euroleague MVP this season, which will raise his value even higher than it already is as the consensus best non-NBA player in the world.

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    Don Ellis started covering sports professionally when he was 15. The same year (1980), as a student assistant at Seeger Memorial High School in West Lebanon, IN, he was one of the first in the world to use, study and implement analytics in basketball. He attended Daytona State College and Ball State University, and some of his past credits include InsideHoops (NBA Runaround: The NBA According to Ellis) and ESPN Florida (The Florida Sports Reporters), where he was fortunate enough to work with many rising stars, including NFL Network's Dan Hellie, Redskins coach Jay Gruden, Magic radio and TV personality Dante Marchitelli, and WSB-TV (Atlanta) Sports Director Zach Klein. In addition to running the Bullsville blog and officiating basketball, baseball and football for the KHSAA, he is also a bass player and vocalist who writes and produces music in his spare time (you may remember his internet hit "I Hate Eddy Curry"). He's a 3rd-generation Cubs fan, a Bulls fan since the days of Van Lier and Sloan, and a life-long New England Patriots fan. He's seen Primus 9 times and thinks Les Claypool walks on water. By far his greatest accomplishment is being a father of three and grandfather of one.

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