Gibson: Bulls Should Make Mirotic Untouchable, Euroleague Heats Up

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You know those other guys on the list, and while there might not be a franchise player among them, they have all shown that they can start in the NBA.

And had the award been around for the taking in 2001, it would have belonged to Gasol, who made the All-Euroleague Second Team after averaging 18.5 points and 6.0 rebounds for Barcelona as a 21-year-old.

Although the NBA has become an increasingly fertile breeding ground for ultra-young phenoms, the top tier of the Euroleague is still an Old Boys Club. Mirotic is one of just two players on the team under 25. The other is 18-year-old Guillermo Hernangomez, who has played just 4:59 all season for Los Blancos.

The point is, it takes a very special player to contribute for a Euroleague team at such a young age, especially for Madrid, a club with more banners than any team on the continent.

Mirotic is big, European and his stroke is woven from silk.  So he’s soft, right?  Wrong.

As Simon Jatsch, European basketball’s favorite blend of Billy Beane, Brad Pitt and John Hollinger, notes in this wonderful piece entitled The Evolution of Nikola Miroticthe Montenegrin has watched his toughness metrics soar this season compared to his last two award-winning seasons with Madrid.

He is attempting more free throws per shot, crashing the offensive glass at an elite level, finishing off pick-and-rolls and exploiting defenses wary of his outside shooting by catching the ball closer to the rim and creating higher value shots for himself.

In the Spanish League (ACB), he ranks third in scoring (17.6), 11th in rebounding (6.2) and is tied for eighth in blocks (1.0).

Pleasing to both the critical eye and overly punched calculator alike. A rarity these days, and one worth holding onto.

And whether it is for Gasol or anyone else, the Bulls should think long and hard about whether they want to watch Mirotic tear up the NBA in Pelican blue the way the Hawks are still watching Gasol dominate in Laker gold and España red, wondering why their end of that 2001 draft day trade is an assistant for the Kings.

Euroleague Update

Here’s the part where I tell you Mirotic had his worst game of the year this past week in a 76-70 loss to Cantu.  He scored just two points on 1-of-5 shooting after going 14-of-21 for 35 points in the previous two weeks combined. But it was of little consequence for Real Madrid, which already has locked up at least second place in Group A with one game left in the Euroleague’s regular season.

[The Euroleague format is visually and comprehensively explained here.]

A win against Union Olimpija in Week 10, along with a Panathinaikos loss to BC Khimki Moscow, would ensure first place in the group.  If Panathinaikos beat Khimki, then the Greens will be in first position heading into the Top 16.

Beating Madrid was huge for Cantu. The Italian side now has a chance at the Top 16 if it can beat Fenerbahce Ulker in the season’s finale.

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  3. Phil Jackson says:

    “Three team deal that has been batted around”, by who??? This is a fimant of someones imagination…

  4. Mirotic is not the best player in Europe. Some people here are delusional.

  5. @AP
    So Mirotic recorded 19pts 8rebs in 22 minutes. You keep ragging on a player who’s only 21 and has a lot of room to grow. I believe he’s better than those Euro Vets you mentioned, but that’s just my two cents.

  6. The biggest international basketball site in the world – Eurobasket.com did their annual poll of the 300 leading sports journalists in Europe that cover basketball.

    They voted on the best players in Europe………..

    Eurobasket.com All-Europe Awards 2012

    Eurobasket.com All-Europe 1st Team

    Player of the Year: Vassilis Spanoulis (193-G-82) of Olympiacos S.F.P. Piraeus (Greece)

    Point Guard of the Year: Vassilis Spanoulis (193-G-82) of Olympiacos S.F.P. Piraeus (Greece)

    Shooting Guard of the Year: Dimitris Diamantidis (196-G-80) of Panathinaikos Athens (Greece)

    Small Forward of the Year: Andrei Kirilenko (209-F-81) of CSKA Moscow (Russia) / Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)

    Power Forward of the Year: Erazem Lorbek (210-F/C-84) of Regal FC Barcelona (Spain)

    Center of the Year: Nenad Krstic (213-C-83) of CSKA Moscow (Russia)

    Coach of the Year: Dusan Ivkovic of Olympiacos S.F.P. Piraeus (Greece)

    Eurobasket.com All-Europe 2nd Team

    Bo McCalebb (183-PG-85) of Montepaschi Siena (Italy) / Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Turkey)

    Juan Carlos Navarro (192-G-80) of Regal FC Barcelona (Spain)

    Rudy Fernandez (198-SF-85) of Real Madrid (Spain)

    Mike Batiste (203-F-77) of Panathinaikos Athens (Greece) / Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Turkey)

    Jonas Valanciunas (211-C-92) of Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (Lithuania) / Toronto Raptors (NBA)

    Eurobasket.com All-Europe Honorable Mention

    David Hawkins (195-G/F-82) of Besiktas Milangaz Istanbul (Turkey) / Galatasaray Medical Park Istanbul (Turkey)

    Milos Teodosic (195-PG-87) of CSKA Moscow (Russia)

    Henry Domercant (194-SG-80) of Unics Kazan (Russia) / Galatasaray Medical Park Istanbul (Turkey)

    Alexey Shved (198-SG-88) of CSKA Moscow (Russia) / Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)

    Sonny Weems (198-G/F-86) of Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania) / CSKA Moscow (Russia)

    Kostas Papanikolaou (206-F-90) of Olympiacos S.F.P. Piraeus (Greece)

    Viktor Khryapa (206-F-82) of CSKA Moscow (Russia)

    David Andersen (212-C-80) of Montepaschi Siena (Italy) / Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Turkey)

    Georgios Printezis (206-F-85) of Olympiacos S.F.P. Piraeus (Greece)

    Zoran Planinic (201-G-82) of BC Khimky Moscow Region (Russia)

    Nikola Mirotic did not even make the top 20 list. Seriously, this guy is entering into the range of overrating and over hyping by NBA related media that Ricky Rubio was at.

    Mirotic is NOT one of the best players in Europe. The poll of the 300 leading basketball journalists in Europe proves that.

  7. http://www.eurobasket.com/boxScores/Spain/2012/1230_100_86.asp

    Yeah, clearly Mirotic is much better than someone like Navarro…………seriously hahahah. That game pretty much sums up why Mirotic is being extremely overrated here. He’s not in any way, shape, or form a difference maker, or lead player.

    But this article is making it look like he’s a one of a kind player in Europe. Simply no. Way too much hype on a guy that basically is just a cross between Ersan Ilyasova and Antonis Fotsis.

  8. Hey Nick,

    What do you think Mirotic’s ceiling is? He has been compared to players like Schrempf, Kukoc, Gallanari, Ilyasova, Anderson, and even Nowitzki. Do you also believe he can become a legitimate second option next to Rose? I trust your insight by the way, since you’ve been following Mirotic for a while. Yourself and Jonathan Givony really know a lot about Euro players.

    • Givony knows almost nothing about European players. His scouting reports on European players are almost comical they are so bad. I doubt if he’s even see 90% of the players play that he is writing reports on.

      You can’t go by a single ting he says at all.

      Nick actually watches these guys play, so he is a much better and much more legit source on European players than Givony. But nonetheless, IMO Nick is overrating Mirotic to an extreme.

  9. You can pretty much forget about trading Mirotic before he has signed an NBA contract, he made it very clear before the draft that he was only interested in playing for the Bulls or Lakers. I can’t see why any team would trade for his rights when there’s a very good chance he wouldn’t come over and play for that team.

  10. This site is just over hyping Mirotic and overrating him to a ridiculous degree. The same thing as with Rubio all over again. It’s really getting old.

    It’s amazing when you had players like Navarro, Diamantidis, Papaloukas, Spanoulis, Siskuaskas in Europe and you never once heard a thing about them from US sports media. But endless nonsense hype about much lesser players like Mirotic and Rubio………..

    • Funny, you say Rubio was “overhyped”, yet he came to the NBA and was 6th in the league in assists per game and 2nd in steals per game as a 21-year-old rookie… JC Navarro? Really? Played one year in the NBA at 27 and only managed 11 pts/game on 40% shooting… Spanoulis?? Played one season at 24, and barely got off the bench. Those other guys never played in the league, why would the US sports media even mention them? Of course, it could also be that none of the guys you listed are as good as Rubio or Mirotic?

      • Typical NBA only fan. Not even having the slightest clue that many players in Europe are better, even much better than Rubio. It’s absurd how NBA only fans talk about the Euroleague.

        Navarro and Spanoulis are vastly superior players to Rubio. He won’t ever be half as good as they are.

        • Typical European fan, can’t even read and comprehend plain English.

          “Those other guys never played in the league, why would the US sports media even mention them?”

          Again, for the most part, the US media and the average NBA fan don’t care about a bunch of guys who will never play in the NBA.

          YOUR opinion on who is better means even less to NBA fans and the American media.

        • Yea.. That’s why rubio is the starting pg on the spanish national team and not navarro. Rubios never gonna be as good as navarro? -_- ridiculous

    • Hey AP. Maybe you’re looking for something like this on Spanoulis:

      http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2012/04/17/gibson-kirilenko-should-not-be-euroleague-mvp-it-should-be-spanoulis/

      Or Navarro:

      http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2011/11/25/gibson-column-navarro-breaks-euroleague-scoring-title-whos-up-next/

      Here’s one that leads with Siskauskas, and follows with Spanoulis:

      http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2012/05/13/olympiacos-wins-euroleague-championship-on-buzzer-beater/

      And Diamantidis is another staple in these EL Updates. Most recently about a week ago:

      http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2012/12/12/euroleague-power-rankings-week-9/

      While I’m not claiming to represent the ‘US Sports Media’—that’s weighty and I doubt they’d have me—I am saying that there’s some pretty good stuff out there about European hoops if you look in the right places. I believe that this is one of those right places. Mirotic has gotten more ink than many others, but keep in mind that this site is read by NBA fans mainly, and there’s intrigue with Nikola right now, what with trade speculation and all.

      But I believe you’d be hard pressed to find another site run by the ‘US Sports Media’ whose editor gives this many pixels to European hoops on a weekly basis. For me, the fact that we’ve even gotten this discussion going (thank you to everyone who’s commented) and kept it going is a positive. We’re having a conversation about European basketball, and that can’t be a bad thing.

      Also, my site Euroleague Adventures, is linked in my author bio at the bottom of the article should you care to give it a try. Whether it’s here or there, I’ll always try to respond thoughtfully whenever you take the time to leave a comment. Thanks for reading, AP.

  11. The only person the Bulls should trade for while giving up Mirotic is Kevin Love.

    • You’ve found my weakness. If the Bulls can get Kevin Love, then yes; pull the trigger. Obviously Chicago would need to add a whole lotta salary in with that deal to make the math work, much as Arky mentioned below.

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  12. It all comes down to what the ceiling is for Mirotic. The Bulls’ starting center spot for the next few years is Noah’s. There’s no contest there.
    Is Mirotic expected to be better than Boozer/Taj right off the bat? Or will he play a Kukoc-like role coming off the bench at SF/PF? It’s interesting, and definitely something to watch.

    • Ideally, Mirotic would function as a perfect fit alongside Noah at the PF as a guy who can stretch the floor, but doesn’t necessarily need to in order to be effective—he’s adding moves seemingly every couple of weeks.

      But he needs to fill out a little bit, as is the case with most 21-year-olds.

      If he comes over in two, three seasons, then I believe he can step in immediately and be effective as a starter, with a more defensive-minded PF coming off the bench behind him. If Gibson is still around, all the merrier, but I have faith that Thibodeau will have one of those in his back pocket at all times, whether it’s Taj or someone else.

      Thanks for the comment, Isaac. But know this: while Mirotic is not a bad passer, he’ll never be Kukoc. The scoring? Give me Mirotic.

  13. Mirotic may be a nice prospect, but hardly untouchable and the fact that he’s probably not even going to play in the NBA for a couple more years further drives down his value to a team like the Bulls trying to win now (or at least very soon).

    The reason the Bulls would be crazy to do Mirotic, Gibson and a first for Gasol (besides the fact that it does not work from a salary cap point of view in any way shape or form) is:

    1. The Bulls have two quality starting bigs already. Both Boozer and Gasol make too much money to come off the bench. It’s an inefficient use of the salary cap.

    2. I’m not convinced that Gasol would be significantly better for them than Gibson, at this point.

    3. Did I mention that it doesn’t work from a salary cap point of view and the Bulls would have to give up more in salary to let it happen? That will just make the deal even worse for them.

    TO me this sounds like just another silly rumour made up by Laker fans so they can dream of moving Gasol. The fact is that his enormous contract is going to make a move well-nigh impossible.

  14. I am sorry, but Nikola Mirotic is miles from being an untouchable player, and if they could get Pau for him, they would be absolutely stupid not to do so. Mirotic isn’t half as good as you are making him out to be here.

    This is exaggeration about the level of player he is. And that NBA GM is wrong. You are telling me Mirotic is more talented than other young guys in Europe in his same general age like Jaka Blazic, Kostas Papanikolaou, Nikos Pappas, Ilkan Karaman, Vangelis Mantzaris…just to name the ones that first pop in my head, but there are others.

    Come on. Sorry, but this is just nonsense. I can say with complete confidence that Mirotic isn’t even remotely as good as you are making him out to be.

    • Thanks for reading, and even more for the comment. I think you’d be very hard pressed to find anyone who thinks Jaka Blazic, Nikos Pappas, Ilkan Karaman or Evangelos Mantzaris—while all solid and improving players in their own distinct ways—is anywhere close to Mirotic in talent, potential, or production to-date. Kostas Papanikolaou is the only one on that list that stands a chance to produce for an NBA team at anywhere near the rate that Mirotic would.

      And my opinion here is not based mostly upon anyone else’s scouting or opinion of Mirotic but my own; this is an NBA site, and my NBA source’s opinion is meant to back up my own theory that Mirotic is as good as it gets abroad. I have been watching Mirotic for three seasons now in both the EL and the ACB, watched him play multiple times in person, talked to his teammates, opposing players, scouts and coaches that all feel the same way: Nikola Mirotic is an elite prospect.

      There is zero deviation in that regard. Same story, no matter who tells it.

      Even Ricky Rubio was polarizing in Europe, as plenty of decision makers and players alike had opinions which varied on his NBA potential (some of the polarization was created by the unrelenting hype, of which there is little—thankfully—for Mirotic). He had very glaring holes in his game, especially as it fit in—or rather, didn’t fit in—in Europe.

      Besides saying this is nonsense, what is wrong with Mirotic’s performance? His game? What are his weaknesses, his holes, his deficiencies? And why would the Bulls want Gasol, for the very same reasons stated in Arky’s comment above?

      (And I agree with you, Arky, except for your assertion that Mirotic should be used as trade bait if a win-now player comes along.)

      I look at a 21-year-old that has dominated at every level of competition and has now been given the keys to Europe’s most championship-laden club—a club that has enough money to pay anyone they’d like to do the same.

      Yet they chose Mirotic, and they’ve not a single reason to regret it yet.

      Thanks again for the comment, both of you.

      • Davan Sand says:

        BTW, the Bulls sent picks 28 and thier second rounder, number 43 to the TWolves for the rights to Mirotic. They used pick 30 on Jimmy Butler. Nice draft for the Bulls

        • Thanks, Davan. I made that change. Appreciate you reading that far into the piece. And yes—it was a nice draft for the Bulls. With a chance to get much nicer down the road.

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  1. [...] goes on to say, “The Bulls should make Mirotic untouchable.”  These are high praises from a NBA writer who cover the European league full-time.  [...]

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