Bulls Player Rewind: Nikola Mirotic
Nikola Mirotic 2016-17 stats: 10.6 PPG, 5.5 REB, 1.1 AST
Promising third year forward Nikola Mirotic had another up and down season for the Bulls in 2016-17, showing flashes of his endless potential as a mobile big man who can shoot amidst stretches of disappointing play. After a rough stretch to start the season, the Montenegrin forward put together another strong March, getting hot from the field and showing off his versatile game to help the Bulls rally their season together and make the playoffs. Let’s take a look at some of Threekola’s biggest games:
at Charlotte Hornets, March 13 - The Bulls and Hornets were two teams both fighting for playoff contention coming down the season, and had split their first two matchups of the year. The third and final game was played in Charlotte, and the Bulls pulled out a tightly contested 115-109 decision on the road. Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo had big games, but Mirotic came in and proved to be the difference maker off the bench, scoring 24 points, hitting 5 threes, cleaning up on the boards and giving the Bulls the spark they needed to take a win.
Mirotic stat line: 24 points (8-16 FG), 5-12 3PT, 11 rebounds
at Milwaukee Bucks, March 26 - The Bulls needed to scratch and claw for every possible win down the stretch of the season, and this 109-94 road win over the Bucks, who had dominated the Bulls in three previous meetings, was a big reason why. Niko hit an incredible 11 of his 14 shots for 28 points, completely dominating the game as Milwaukee had no answers for an on-fire Mirotic. When Mirotic was hitting like this, the Bulls were a hard team to beat.
Mirotic stat line: 28 points (11-14 FG), 6-9 3PT, 8 rebounds, 1 assist
vs Cleveland Cavaliers, March 30 - This was the epitome game of Niko’s month of March. In a season where the Bulls swept the powerhouse Cavs 4-0, this win at the tail end of the season truly stands out. The Cavs were at full strength, with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin love all playing, and J.R. Smith back from injury, and still competing for a playoff spot. The Bulls were playing without Dwyane Wade, and needed wins badly to make the playoff run they wanted to make. The difference in this one was Niko, who shot a blistering 9-14 from the field with six of those coming from downtown, grabbing ten rebounds and overall shooting the Bulls to a huge 99-93 home win over the Cavs. It was everything Bulls fans wanted to see from Mirotic in one complete package.
Mirotic stat line: 28 points (9-14 FG), 6-11 3PT, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block