2011 TrueHoop Network Mock Draft: With the 29th pick, the San Antonio Spurs select…
Nikola Mirotic, 6’10” forward from Real Madrid.
Previous pick: Chicago Bulls select Darius Morris
It’s hard to find someone with the 29th pick who can come in and contribute right away. It’s even harder when they’re expected to come in and contribute on a 61-win team. Even harder still when this is expected to be a weak draft when all is said and done.
So the Spurs go with the foreign draft-and-stash tactic that they have been more successful than most teams in the NBA at. The Montenegran Mirotic, coming out of the ACB league in Spain — thought of as the best basketball league in the world outside of the NBA — averaged 8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game this past year.
Admittedly, they’re not numbers that blow you away, but he only played 91 minutes in his first 20 contests for Real last season per DraftExpress. Here’s what DX has to say about Mirotic:
Nikola Mirotic faced the highest level of competition of any player in this draft in 56 EuroLeague and ACB games, and managed to emerge as a consistent and efficient contributor as the season wore on.
Scoring 1.093 PPP overall (4th), Mirotic’s situational breakdown lends itself to perceptions of his potential as a stretch-four. With 35% of his touches coming in spot-up situations (1st) and 47% of shots being jumpers (1st), Mirotic’s job for Real was to spread the floor, knock down his open looks, and make savvy plays inside the arc. Knocking down a very respectable 41% (1.1 PPP, 4th) of his jumpers, Mirotic was able to do just that.
Inside the arc, Mirotic only finished at a 60% rate (5th last), but ranked highly in a few notable categories. He was 4th in roll man PPP (1.371), 4th in transition PPP (1.44), and 5th in cut PPP (1.296). Mirotic was notably average in isolation and post-up situations, making his efficiency as a role-player that much more significant. He isn’t a prolific one-on-one threat, but amongst prospects on this list, Mirotic’s situational efficiency paints him as a tremendously safe bet to be able to compete at a high level in the NBA.
When the Spurs have a choice between drafting someone late who can join the team immediatly but be very limited in the long term, and picking a player who will stay overseas for a couple of seasons and then join the team more NBA ready, the Spurs usually choose the international.
You may now commence your “Winter Shoes 2.0” jokes.