NEW YORK — The Bulls didn’t actually select their first guy in the 2011 NBA Draft, they traded for him. Tracing Nikola Mirotic’s draft night is almost like Seven Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon if seven degrees is three and Kevin bacon is a 6’10” Serbian small forward.
Mirotic was originally selected by the Houston Rockets at the 23rd overall spot but was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the rights to Donatas Motiejunas and PG Jonny Flynn. Minnesota then turned right around and traded him to the Bulls for the rights to Norris Cole whom they then turned around and traded to the Heat. Bottom line is the Bulls traded picks 28 and 43 in 2011 for Nikola Mirotic.
There is a lot of hype around Mirotic with some saying he has the potential to be a real force in the NBA, but there is a huge IF on that. Analysts say he could be special IF he actually decides to play in the NBA. Mirotic has said he will return to Serbia to play Euro ball and isn’t sure when he wants to transition to the NBA. The Bulls are no strangers to players staying overseas for a while to marinate. Omer Asik played his rookie year this past season after being drafted in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft. The verdict won’t be in on Mirotic for some time, but analysts are already starting to breakdown what he may be able to do in the NBA. Here’s a little of what their saying of the Bulls 23rd selection in the 2011 NBA Draft
DRAFT EXPRESS.COM – Inside the arc, Mirotic only finished at a 60% rate (5th last), but ranked highly in a few notable categories. He was 4th in roll man PPP (1.371), 4th in transition PPP (1.44), and 5th in cut PPP (1.296). Mirotic was notably average in isolation and post-up situations, making his efficiency as a role-player that much more significant. He isn’t a prolific one-on-one threat, but amongst prospects on this list, Mirotic’s situational efficiency paints him as a tremendously safe bet to be able to compete at a high level in the NBA. That is, if he’ll ever come over.
JEFF EISENBERG (YAHOO) — Had the Timberwolves drafted Nikola Mirotic to keep him, it again would have been a strange move for a rebuilding team that needs players who can make an immediate impact. Instead they’ll move him to Chicago in exchange for the Nos. 28 and 43 picks and cash. That makes him a savvy pick for the Bulls, a team that can afford to wait a few years for a European forward with mid-first round talent to come stateside.
JUSTIN ALBERS (SUN-TIMES) — The Bulls made a similar move in 2008 when they traded for center Omer Asik, but Asik signed an NBA contract only two years after he was drafted. They likely made the trade because they didn’t want two more guaranteed contracts on their books heading into labor uncertainty.
NICK FRIEDELL (ESPN CHICAGO) — Butler could join the rotation immediately, while it could be years until Mirotic suits up for Tom Thibodeau’s team.