Five things to know about Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic
1) By any measure, he’s having the best season of his four-year NBA career, shooting a career-best 47.4 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from three-point range and 82.3 percent at the foul line. Mirotic’s scoring average of 16.8 points in 2017-18 tops his previous best in that category by exactly 5.0 (he averaged 11.8 in ’15-16).
2) The 26-year-old’s impact on Chicago this season was undeniable. After the Bulls started an NBA-worst 3-20, Mirotic sparked an immediate turnaround, featuring Chicago going on a stunning seven-game winning streak. Overall, the Bulls went 4-22 when Mirotic didn’t play, but 14-11 when he was in uniform. He averaged 17.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in Chicago’s 14 victories.
3) One possible reason behind his tremendous surge in performance could be that Mirotic reportedly added 20-plus pounds in the offseason, becoming much stronger and increasing his confidence.
4) According to Basketball-Reference.com, Mirotic is one of six players in NBA history who were born in Montenegro. He’s the only active player from the Balkan country, with the most recently retired native being Nikola Pekovic, who last played in the league in 2016.
5) Prior to coming to the NBA as a rookie in 2014-15, he was an accomplished player in Europe, highlighted by being named Spanish League MVP in 2013. He was a two-time Euroleague Rising Star and a two-time Euroleague second-team selection.