So like the rest of you Bulls fans, I’m scrambling to find information on a guy I’ve never heard of before in an effort to break him down for you. I hoping to do a bunch of video scouting of him over the summer to take a peak at how he plays, but when looking for coverage of international draft prospects and how they translate, there’s only one place to go: draftexpess.com
(side note, I am a partial owner of dx, so I’m biased, but the one thing it does substantially better than every other draft site is capture the info on international players, particularly in Europe because JG spends so much time there watching guys)
So you can check out his full profile, and I’m sure over the next 6 months the league is locked out you’ll have time to read the whole thing, but let’s go through some interesting snippets.
Apparently, he didn’t receive the memo. Despite playing just 91 minutes
in the first 21 games of Real Madrid’s season, Mirotic (a player who
struggled to get off the bench at times last year on a bad team in the
Spanish second division) has been the most productive player on arguably
the best team in Europe
Well, since he started getting some burn that is. Real Madrid has
steam-rolled its way through the Euroleague Top 16, with six wins and no
losses, and Mirotic continues to excel in the playing time he’s earned
— roughly 19 minutes per game since the New Year.
He now ranks third in the ACB and sixth in the Euroleague
in PER, thanks to his prolific scoring (21 points per 40 minutes),
solid work on the glass (9.4 rebounds per 40), defensive playmaking (1.4
blocks, 1.6 steals per 40) and terrific efficiency (61% 2P, 43% 3P,
When you’re 6-10, with a great frame, a 7-1 wingspan and good mobility,
and you just turned 20 years old, scouts tend to take notice; especially
when you’re putting those numbers up against the best competition in
the world outside the NBA.
So downside, he doesn’t get memos. Stacy King might not be happy about that. Upside, after breaking the rotation he’s been one of the best players on one of the best teams in Euroleague which is the highest competition in the world outside of the NBA.
It’s worth noting that it’s fairly rare to find young guys this productive in Euroleague. There are a tremendous amount of basketball leagues in Europe. I’d make the analogy to baseball where you have single A, double A, and triple A prior to getting to MLB (Euroleague).
Typically, even the top prospects are still playing in single A or double A at twenty after getting drafted. Every once in awhile someone really special makes it all the way up to the majors at 20, but there’s not tremendous incentive to push them along so fast because the minor league system is so good and has so much depth.
Mirotic is one of those rare guys who got pushed up at a young age, and not only did he get pushed up, he did so with one of the best teams and after getting his chance provided tremendous productivity. 6th highest PER in the best league in Europe.
It’s worth noting that he excels in steals/blocks which are frequently quality markers in terms of whether someone will translate well to the NBA (unusual, but true).
So how does he play?
Offensively, Mirotic acts mostly as a floor spacer for Real Madrid. He
sees most of his possessions spotting up on the wing, cutting to the
basket and finishing off of pick and rolls. He’s converted 42%
(22-of-53) of his jumpers on the season and is extremely reliable with
his feet set. He has also shown consistent range out to the 3-point
With his excellent size and quick release, Mirotic is a tough matchup
for most big men, especially since he’s very adept at using shot-fakes
and taking the ball to the basket. He has a nice first step and solid
ball-handling skills. He’s generally a very fundamentally sound player.
He has an excellent feel for the game and plays relatively mistake-free
(compared to his usage).
Yes, he’s a stretch four with a quick release, but who can also take guys off the dribble when they run out at him. With Derrick Rose likely to be locked in four whatever the max years after a new CBA is signed, you can bet your ass the Bulls will need a player like that whenever they can get him over here.
Now I know what you’re thinking; typical. soft jump shooting big man from Europe, surprise, surprise..
While, offensively, it’s not difficult to see why Mirotic has earned
minutes, it’s actually on the defensive end where he’s surprisingly
emerged as Real Madrid’s most consistent big man.
Mirotic is very fundamentally sound — never off-balance, always staying
solid in his stance and rarely gambling for the sake of making a
spectacular play. Nevertheless, he’s been fairly productive
statistically, showing excellent timing as a shot-blocker and even
getting in the passing lanes on occasion, likely aided greatly by his
excellent length. He still needs to add strength (as most 20-year-olds
do), but Mirotic has a good frame and should be able to see minutes at
either big man position in the NBA, depending on who he’s playing next
This versatility is what makes Mirotic so intriguing from an NBA
standpoint–he can play alongside many different types of frontcourt
players as either a power forward or center and thus would be able to
fit onto almost any team. Every good team these days needs at least one
skilled big man in their rotation who can space the floor and attack
opposing players in mismatch situations, and Mirotic seems to fit the
bill to a T based on what we’re seeing.
He’s a tough defender who’s fundamentally sound, has nice length, doesn’t gamble, and can play the four or the five. At the NBA level will he still be able to do that? Hard to say, but the fact that he’s not a Euro-sieve means he’s likely to be passable on defense at the NBA level even if it’s not his strong suit.
So where’s the rub?
For one, he’s just an average defensive rebounder, ranking in the middle of the pack in this category amongst ACB and Euroleague
power forwards. He has been improving as the year has progressed but is
somewhat limited by his average athleticism (by NBA standards) in this
area. He also doesn’t appear to be a great passer, handing out just 16
assists in 470 minutes this season (or one every 29 minutes he’s on the
The biggest drawback from an NBA standpoint is in the likelihood a team
will actually be able to bring him over. Mirotic was brought to Spain
(from Montenegro, by a Real Madrid scout) when he was just 15 years old
and signed a nine-year contract (which has since been redone) with
unfavorable terms, as many young players in Europe often are. He still
has two more seasons (after this) on his current deal, with a buyout
clause that exceeds $2 million, which could be prohibitive for a NBA
Not a great defensive rebounder (though his rebound rate isn’t bad enough to be red flag worthy), and his contract situation really sucks.
Jonathan goes on to describe that there are questions about whether he wants to play in the NBA and after getting a Spanish passport, ACB will do whatever they can to keep him.
Ultimately, the salary structure of European basketball has fallen apart somewhat. The owners typically losing truckloads of money on their teams over the past decade but wanting to win bad enough that they don’t mind because they’re billionaires and all.
However, with the recent recession, running a basketball team that loses truckloads of cash isn’t such a hot idea anymore. That said, there’s a good chance the Bulls will find it very difficult to bring him over, and it probably won’t happen for 3-4 years, and there’s a shot it never will happen.
The financial problems is what kept every other team away. People say the Bulls don’t take risks, but they took one on Mirotic. He’s, without much doubt at all, the best player available where they drafted. He would have been a top 10 pick if he had a clean buy out situation, and he may have had a shot inside the top 5.
The problem is his contract situation is abysmally bad, and he’s given no signs that he wants to bolt for the NBA either. The Bulls took a risk on a guy has immense talent, but may never get to play for them. If the risk pans out, they get a versatile stretch big man who can play the four or five and fit next to almost anyone on the court.
They’ll also get him at a point where he’s well seasoned, in his prime, and has played at the 2nd highest level of basketball in the world as a key piece for an extended period of time. There’s a good chance the risk won’t pan out though. There’s a good chance that we’ll never see Mirotic make it over to the NBA, and if that’s the case critics will say the Bulls messed up big time.
However, in a draft of mediocre talent, I’ll take my team taking a well thought out calculated risk. they took the guy who they know has the ability to be a starting caliber player in the NBA and just have to figure out how to get him here. I’ll take that over reaching for a guy that needs to be taught how to play the game, needs to learn not to be a head case, or is good except for the one kryptonian flaw.
It’s a high risk pick for Chicago, but it’s one that makes perfect sense for so many reasons. The new CBA is going to limit what kind of talent the Bulls can bring in financially. Their record will limit what kind of talent they can draft.
With this pick and the future first from Charlotte, the Bulls have found ways to inject themselves with potentially very valuable young players several years down the road when they wouldn’t have those picks ordinarily. They’ll be able to help reload with a couple high potential guys where most elite teams coudln’t.
On top of that, the risk plays well with their current situation. This roster is stacked right now. The Bulls had more rotation players than they could use last year. They traded away James Johnson largely because they had no room to develop a prospect despite the fact he showed flashes and got into tremendous shape this season.
Odds are that Marshown Brooks wasn’t going to beat out Ronnie Brewer for the starting two guard spot, and the Bulls will look to bring in someone better than Brewer to compete as well.
Brooks simply wasn’t likely to be the answer for a team looking to win a title this year, and while Bulls fans want a young SG to pair up with Rose, it should be intuitively obvious that to win it all they needed to bring in someone more talented than a guy who ended up going 25th in what was viewed as a very weak draft class.
The Bulls don’t have many minutes to hand out, and instead of bringing in two prospects who would find little playing time, they brought in one guy for depth and found a way to turn the other into an extremely high potential future asset.
Another way to frame this pick is to view it as the Bulls trading away pick #28 in this draft for the #7 or #8 pick in four years, and doing so while they have a stacked roster with no room to develop #28 anyway.