Have you forgotten about that Mirotic guy they are sorta sweet to? You remember, the guy they drafted in the FIRST ROUND in 2011? Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, even Summer League Marquis Teague are the kinds of guys the Bulls draft in the 20’s, but people ignored Mirotic because he had just signed a 5-year extension with his Spanish League team, Real Madrid.
As it turns out, the Bulls made a great move and picked up a lottery talent by drafting Mirotic, knowing full well he would play 3 more years in Europe.
After winning a second consecutive “Rising Star” award in Europe in 2012, he added the ACB (Spanish League) Most Valuable Player award this season. The ACB is generally regarded as the best league in the world other than the NBA.
(The “Rising Star” award is given to the best young, up-and-coming player in Europe, the name kind of explains it. Mirotic was that guy last season as well, but how the hell can you call the guy who is the MVP of the 2nd-best league in the world a “rising” star?)
If you hadn’t noticed- which is inexcusable, because I’ve been saying it for several years now- the NBA game is becoming more and more “Europeanized” every year. It actually (pretty slyly) started the other way around, with the FIBA game going from a 30-second shot clock to a 24-second shot clock, as well as moving the International 3-point line much closer to the NBA line.
It’s not so much about rules changes in the NBA, but about style of play. We have finally reached the point, 30-some years after the implementation of the 3-point shot in the NBA, that teams are full of 3-point shooters. Really, really good 3-point shooters. And with the elimination of hand-checking on the perimeter, coupled with the proliferation of uber-quick, multi-talented point guards who can get to the rim at will, spreading the floor for these scoring, ball-handling machines has become priority #1 for NBA offenses.
Basically, the best NBA offenses now have a point guard, someone who can effictively pick-and-roll and/or pick-and-pop with the point guard, and three guys who can stand 23’9″ from the basket and still need to be guarded. Now that doesn’t even have to be a point guard and a center, but if a team can have the job done by guys who are able to handle the other job responsibilities of those two positions, they have an advantage.
That’s where Mirotic comes in. At somewhere near 6’11”, he’s tall enough and nimble enough to guard most NBA power forwards, and many centers as well. But more importantly, he’s probably the most effective 3-point shooting big man in the world (or he will be within a year or two).
Playing next to Joakim Noah, he’ll be able to “guard” the opponents’ weaker offensive front-court player as well as Carlos Boozer, even with one hand tied behind his back. (I love Carlos, but his “defense” is usually about as prevalent as my “modesty”). But most importantly, he can stand behind the 3-point line and be guarded, clearing out the lane for Rose to score, or he can be left alone as his defender helps on Rose, and hit many, many wide-open 3-pointers at somewhere around a 40% clip.
This is a lot of info for one article, I’ll have to continue with Part 2 tomorrow.