Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nikola Mirotic - 2011 International Draft Prospect Scouting Report

Nikola Mirotic
Real Madrid
6-10 PF
20 Years Old

More international prospect scouting reports:
Jonas Valanciunas | Bismack Biyombo | Jan Vesely | Donatas Motiejunas

Nikola Mirotic played a key role off the bench for one of the top Euro clubs, Real Madrid, this season. The young forward, a Spanish national born in Montenegro, was impressive in limited minutes and showed he could hang with the top competition in Europe.

In 20 Euroleague games, Nikola averaged 6.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg and shot 55% on 2PA & 38.7 on 3PA in 15 mins/game. His numbers in the Spanish ACB are nearly identical.

The major sticking point forcing Mirotic down draft boards is his contract situation in Spain (recently re-upped for three more years with Real). Currently slated for the late 1st round with the Spurs and Mavs interested. If not for his contract situation, Mirotic would be a surefire lottery pick, if not a Top 10 selection.

Doesn't need three years of seasoning--can help an NBA playoff team right now. Next to Kanter, has the most refined skills package of any int'l prospect in the draft. If there was a MENSA for basketball IQ, Nikola would be a card-carrying member. He plays like a 10-year vet--the game comes so natural to him.

No questions about his fundamentals or on-court smarts, but some reservations about his physical skills. Solid athlete for Europe, but looks to be subpar at the 4-spot in the NBA. Believe he can cover for his athletic shortcomings somewhat because of his package of skills, size and smarts. Wouldn't hurt to start chugging the whey protein to add beef to his 225-lb. frame.

Perfectly fits the role of a stretch-four (four-spreader)--shot nearly 39% from the 3pt. arc in both the EL & ACB. Nice balanced jumper where he really extends the follow-thru high. He really took the old coaching adage of "extending your follow-thru like you're shooting in a phone booth" to heart.

He will be a deadly pick/pop option--he shot 70% eFG pct. on his pick/pop attempts this season. Did not take a ton of pull-up jumpers, but when he did, everything looked good. Shows glimpes of being a pull-up threat in the future.

Maybe his most impressive skill is his cutting ability. Impeccable feel of when and where to make cuts. Terrific ability to read his teammates and defense to sneak to the open spot at the perfect time. It didn't hurt that Real Madrid was one of the best passing teams on Earth. The spacing and orchestration of their offense was textbook.

Does a terrific job adjusting shots at the rim when defenders are near him. Shields the ball well. Will utilize reverse lay-ins and double-clutches or sometimes even a well-timed ball-fake. Can finish with both hands around the rim. Doesn't get great lift off the ground, so you wonder if some of the shots he gets off in Europe won't fly in the NBA.

Constantly using ball fakes on the perimeter. Solid ball-handler for a PF, who loves to drive the ball left. Actually, maybe favors the left hand too much for a right-hander. Has soft hands and snatches errant passes out of his area.

Though Nikola did not isolate much this season, I feel he has the tools to be an iso threat in the future. Likes how he lines up his defender and is resourceful using ball fakes. Don't let the low assist totals fool you, he's got some passing skills--adept at bounce passes.

Right now his post game is solid and he has all the requisite tools to push it to another level. Great foowork and ability to feel his defender makes him very dangerous with spin moves. And he tends to make them quick. Though he did not make a ton of turnaround jumpers, he looked good on his attempts technically, which is promising.

For a guy in serious need of some lbs., he guarded the post very well. Stays with his man thanks to nice footwork and anticipation. Also, like how he uses his chest to guard in the post (very similar to what we noticed in Omer Asik last year). On defensive post possessions, Nikola was able to hold his opponent to 28% shooting. There were a few instances where he did get backed down easily, which is to be expected. But for the most part, he was able to hold his ground thanks to a wide, balanced base.

Guarding in iso situations, he was equally impressive--held his opponent to 28% shooting and forced a TO on 20% of the iso possessions. Like his post defense, he makes up for a lack of natural agility with good footwork and outstanding anticipation skills (very similar to Motiejunas). Does a good job beating the ball-handler to spots and forcing him to change direction.

Like Motiejunas, Mirotic performed well defensively in Europe. But much like Motiejunas, not sure how well the defense translates to the U.S. Will often be at a disadvantage athletically. Though, his instincts, effort and technique might allow him to be a serviceable defender in the NBA.

Mirotic is about as well-rounded a player as anyone in the draft. His feel for the game might be the best in this draft class. His mediocre rebounding and average physical attributes temper his effectiveness somewhat. But think this kid can be exactly the type of smart role player every contending team needs in the rotation.

Three years is a long time to wait and can understand if certain teams don't have the patience. But if you're a team with multiple picks or a squad that does not need immediate help, it would be hard to pass on a legit lottery pick like Mirotic.

*--(Synergy Sports Technology provided data for this report)

More international prospect scouting reports:
Jonas Valanciunas | Bismack Biyombo | Jan Vesely | Donatas Motiejunas


At 10:52 AM, Blogger Kyle said...

That was a great analysis, thank you, could not have asked for more. Pretty happy with the Bulls selection.

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