About a week ago, one of the staff writers here at Pippen Ain’t Easy, Michael Rosenfeld wrote a column about Nikola Mirotic and his belief that the Chicago Bulls should put him in the starting lineup.
He started the article talking Sam Smith writing a piece about the possibility of Doug McDermott making his way in the starting lineup.
Both make valid points because the Chicago Bulls desperately need someone who doesn’t need old YouTube video clips of John Paxson and Steve Kerr to remember a jump shot going in on a consistent basis in the United Center. Plus who on God’s green earth wants to watch bricks being thrown up on a nightly basis by Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler (both shot less than 40% so don’t start the rants). Both guys have enough empathy for the NBA fan to help stop the madness if they can.
For that I appreciate their points. But in reality, they are both wrong.
I love shooters so I will eventually enjoy watching Doug McDermott play. But McDermott is in no danger of seeing the starting lineup because Tom Thibodeau will not start rookies unless some unforeseen major event happens. Like the end of the world or something.
Nikola Mirotic, the 6’10” stretch power forward according to Michael Rosenfeld would be the perfect complement to the starting lineup in 2014.
Nikola Mirotic, the 6’10” stretch power forward according to Ronald Agers should be sitting the bench watching Pau Gasol play at the opening tap.
The Chicago Bulls would have me clowning them for the entire year if they allowed Mirotic, a guy that has not played a second in a NBA regular season game to start over a world-class, two-time world champion in Pau Gasol.
Let me tell you something that will be a perfect complement for Derrick Rose. Someone that has something that even resembles a low post game. Do you know the only player last year that had move that even could be used in the post last year? Here’s a clue, the Chicago Bulls just amnestied him, Carlos Boozer. Pau Gasol provides the low post presence that the Bulls needs to really take the pressure off Derrick Rose. If the Bulls need a basket and Derrick Rose has been taken out of the offense (picture LeBron James switching over to guard Rose), the ball can go to the post to Gasol to make a play. Gasol can score with either hand so he is a big enough threat to free up shooters.
Sure let’s hear it. Nikola Mirotic is not an ordinary rookie.
What to the focus word in that sentence? Rookie. Nikola Mirotic has been playing professional basketball in the second best league in the world for four years. To me that means Mirotic has been playing in a league that has less talent than the number one league in the world, the NBA.
Mirotic has been very successful overseas. I get that. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have the highest rookie contract for a foreign player overseas in NBA history. The Bulls would not have gone through so much trouble to bring him here. He’s a two-time Euroleague Rising Star recipient, two-time All-Euroleague second team honoree and MVP of the Spanish King’s Cup. Impressive.
Pau Gasol was the direct component to two NBA championships and three Western Conference championships in Los Angeles in the post Shaq era. Done deal. Gasol needs to start.
Michael Rosenfeld is definitely right about the misconception that Europeans come into the NBA as soft. These may be generalizations and they could be lazy but, remember when the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics with their “Big Three”? What was the nickname of Pau Gasol back then? It was Pau Ga “soft”. He even gave up a layup to Taj Gibson in the final seconds in Chicago to help the Bulls win last year. Europeans don’t come into the league soft or lazy. They come in having to adapt to the NBA game. Just like the USA teams had to adapt to the international rules in the Olympics and the World Championships, when they were getting beat (2004 Olympics is a perfect example) the Europeans have to adapt as well.
Finally, to end all of this I have a question. If the Bulls wasn’t going to start Gasol, why bring him here? I wasn’t in the meeting but I do know after two of the most disrespectful years of dealing with Mike Dum’toni and the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol is NOT going to come to a situation where he cannot succeed, much less start. He was misused horribly in Los Angeles last year making him into a perimeter player when his post game was needed and was a key to the Lakers success.
If you think the Bulls don’t have a clue let me help out with a quote from Mr. Earvin Johnson by way of Serena Winters on her twitter page @Serena Winters after he tried to get Pau to stay in Los Angeles…
Magic: “He (Pau) was really hurt by the way he was treated.” Specifically how he was mis-used last year, “He could never get over that.”
The Bulls would be very wise to give Pau Gasol the respect that he deserves. Why because he deserves it. Think about this for a second. With all the drama Gasol went through, you would think that he took pollution to an all time high in L.A. with his play. He still averaged 17 points and 9.7 rebounds. Understand this on a team with Swaggy P as the star.
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