Chicago Bulls Fan Fridays: What’s Next, Nikola Mirotic, Nazr Mohammed and ‘The Leader’


Every Friday here at Pippen Ain’t Easy, we’ll take the time to answer questions about the Chicago Bulls and the rest of the NBA overall. So, without further adieu, here’s the sixth edition of Fan Fridays here at PAE.

The 4-2 start to the regular season for the Chicago Bulls has been quite the adventure. The Bulls have beaten teams like Cleveland and Oklahoma City, while losing to Detroit and Charlotte.

There’s been rumors, confusion and just as many ups and downs. But, the Bulls have won four of their first six games and begin a favorable four-game stretch against non-playoff teams.

It’s Friday (and a non-Bulls game day), so that means it’s time for another edition of Fan Fridays here at Pippen Ain’t Easy.

Question from Twitter user @Kevlapoin: When is the next game who’s the victim?

First off, I like the confidence.

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Second, the Bulls will host No. 1 picks Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night in Chicago. Tip-off is set for 5:00 PM CT from United Center.

The young T’Wolves are off to a 2-2 start since former head coach Flip Saunders tragically passed away before the regular season began. After squeaking out a season-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers and a blowout win over the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota has lost two straight to a sneaky-good Portland team and Miami.

Don’t assume that Saturday’s a cakewalk for the Bulls. These young guys can play. It’s a “build-from-the-ground-up” process in Minneapolis and they’ll have a lot of energy on Saturday. The Bulls will have to match it.

Question from Twitter user @_datASHEdoe_: Why do you think Niko [Mirotic] was pretty much nonexistent in [Thursday’s] game?

Nikola Mirotic only played in 16 minutes against Oklahoma City and shot just 1-of-5 from the floor. It was the first time that Mirotic wasn’t a key contributor in a game for the Bulls this season.

It’s not a big deal moving forward. Mirotic’s shot was off and he had a bad night at the office. It’s nothing to fret over. Plus, the pairing of Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah played well up front on Thursday night. The two had a combined plus-minus of +30 against the Thunder. Fred Hoiberg rode with the front court groups that produce for him and Mirotic didn’t on Thursday.

The overall shooting percentage is low (39.7 percent), but he’s shooting a shade under 39 percent from three-point land in the first six games, while averaging 13.7 points per contest. He’ll be just fine.

Question from Twitter user @RealEddy_G: Where’s Nazr [Mohammed]?

That’s an excellent question and not too many actually know the answer to that.

Nazr Mohammed announced on his personal blog back in July that he was a free agent and that if he did return to the NBA, he wanted to play for a few select teams. If you read his blog, you’ll notice that he’s enjoying his attempt to get into broadcasting, so you can probably connect the dots there.

Mohammed played 17 NBA seasons for eight different teams, including the Bulls for the last three years of his playing days. Mohammed’s one of the classiest players (despite what LeBron James may think) in the game and even though his playing days are over, he’ll land on his feet somewhere.

Question from Twitter user @redblackwhite93: Who is the face and/or leader of the Chicago Bulls this season?

No matter what I say here, there are some who aren’t going to be happy. So, let’s talk this out.

I’ve spoken on a couple podcasts recently and I’ve mentioned that the leader of this team is Jimmy Butler. To use a recent example, who stepped forward and said something about the Bulls’ pathetic performance in Charlotte? It was Jimmy Butler.

This may seem weird, but the more I think about this question (because it’s been asked a lot), Derrick Rose is the face of the franchise and Butler’s the leader of the franchise. What I mean is, no matter how good Butler becomes, as long as Rose is in a Bulls uniform, his popularity as the hometown kid will trump any player on the Bulls roster. That’s just how it is.

But, in terms of the leader, I personally think that’s Jimmy Butler’s role.

Here’s the kicker: They both need each other. The Bulls won’t get anywhere near a title without both of them together. Look at Thursday’s game. Butler was virtually the only offense for the Bulls in the first half. When Butler wore down from chasing around Kevin Durant all night in the second half, who stepped up? Derrick Rose did.

Next: Fan Fridays No. 5: Jimmy Butler's sloppy preseason performance

So, to be blunt, this question really doesn’t matter at the end of the day. They both need each other playing at a high level for the Bulls to be successful.

It doesn’t matter who scores more, who makes the All-Star team, etc. They both want to win a title in Chicago. That’s all that should matter.