Chicago Bulls: Comparing this team to our last playoff team

Zach LaVine, Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls, NBA Trade Rumors (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine, Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls, NBA Trade Rumors (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) /

2016-17 Nikola Mirotić Per 36: 16 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.2 BPG, 41.3 FG%, 34.2 3PT%, 77.3 FT%, 1.7 TOV

2019-20 Lauri Markkanen Per 36: 17.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2 APG, 0.6 BPG, 39.1 FG%, 32.5 3PT%, 81.1 FT%, 2.2 TOV

Lauri has, thankfully, turned things around in the last half a dozen games for the Bulls this season, but before he did so he was playing absolutely awful. As a result, his numbers as pictured above per 36 minutes seem rather pedestrian. Specifically, he needs to continue to raise the field goal and three-point percentages. Let’s take a look to see how these offensive-minded big men match up.


Niko could put up points in bunches, but he could also put up bricks in bunches too. A search of Threekola’s 2016-17 box scores for field goal percentage under 40 yields 31 results. He played 70 games that year, so in 44% of those games he was awful on the offensive end. This included two 1 for 9 performances and two 1 for 7 performances as well.

Yikes. Not that Lauri has been a whole ton better this season, but he’s been more consistent than that in the past. I’m giving Lauri a bit of a pass here just based on the assumption that he will continue to play as well as he has the last half a dozen games or so.

Winner: Lauri by a slight edge. 


The eye test here would tell us that both of these guys play pretty much “ole” defense, as they both get put on skates quite often by guards and forwards alike. Diving into these numbers should yield us the least bad of the two.. not anything to write home about.

Nikola actually contributed 2.5 Defensive Win Shares in 2016-17 compared to Lauri’s 1.1 so far and 1.5 last season. According to, the team gives up 38.4 made field goals per 100 possessions when Lauri is on the floor, whereas the 2016-17 team with Niko gave up 39.3. Niko had the sneaky athleticism to block the ball after he was beat while Lauri does not.

Winner: Begrudgingly, I will name a winner. Niko, I guess. 


Lauri’s Total Rebound Percentage has been one of the problems of the season so far, sitting at just 11.6%. Niko is not a ton better, with a Total Rebound Percentage in 2016-17 of 12.3%. Lauri really needs to get back to rebounding the basketball at the rate of last season and he would win this category hands down. 31.3% of Lauri’s rebounds were contested while 33.6% of Niko’s were contested, taking the ball and possession away from an opposing player.

Winner: Nikola by a slight margin.


One of the reasons Niko would get into fights with his teammates and look awful on the floor stemmed from his poor decision-making. He took so many ill-advised shots it got to the point that I would roll my eyes pretty much every time he got the ball.

Lauri, on the other hand, makes the kind of mistakes I can live with as he’s generally trying to make the correct basketball play. Niko would also slip the screen he was supposed to be setting 100% of the time, seemingly, leaving the guard to be manhandled by both defenders. I was not a fan.

Winner: The Finnisher.

Overall Winner: Lauri, breaking a 2-2 tie with my assumption that he’ll play better as the season progresses.