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Mirotic experiencing roller coaster ride of a rookie
As a highly regarded rookie on the Bulls roster, Tom Thibodeau has warned Nikola Mirotic he will experience his share of ups and downs in his first NBA season.
The first two games of the preseason are proof of that.
In the opener against Washington on Monday, Mirotic tallied a team-high 17 points. The following night in Detroit, he was scoreless with five turnovers.
Against the Pistons, Mirotic admitted there were times when he passed on an opportunity to shoot.
“I had some shots, but I didn't think because I saw somebody open,” said Mirotic. “It was instinct, just pass the ball. So the coach, he told me I need to take the shots. Next game I will take it.”
Mirotic getting acclimated to a new team and a new league, not to mention a new country, will take some time. Thibodeau admits as much, but he’s more concerned with him making the right play.
“In this league, it’s critical to know when to shoot and when to pass,” said Thibodeau. “If you’re passing up an open shot, you usually end up with a much tougher shot. If you’re open, shoot. If you’re guarded, move it and make a play. Don’t hold it, don’t dance with it. He’s a very unselfish guy. He’s learning.”
Not only is he learning, but Mirotic is intent on making each and every day count. Whereas Wednesday was originally scheduled to be an off day, he didn’t mind coming in for a two-hour session.
“Every practice for us is good,” said Mirotic. “We need to be ready for the season. Two weeks, so we have a lot of things to do to improve. Every day we need to practice better to be a better team. We are really hungry. We want to be the best team.”
Practices and training are far more intense than what he experienced with Real Madrid, admits Mirotic. But he is taking it all in stride, upbeat about what’s to come.
“I am working every day, lifting,” said Mirotic. “It's tough for me because I’ve never played before with guys like this, very strong. So I need to work hard and I need to be ready to play tough games. I think I will be ready when the season starts.”