Monday night’s preseason contest between the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls saw two forwards leave the contest early, in Hornets forward Marvin Williams (left middle finger sprain) and Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic (lower back strain), neither of whom will return to the contest.
Williams underwent a career renaissance last season with Charlotte, starting 81 games for the Hornets, the first time he had done so in a season since 2009-10 with the Atlanta Hawks. He set new career-highs in three-point percentage (40.2 percent) and rebounds per game (6.4), while chipping in 11.7 points per game, his highest total since 2008-09.
Previously taken as the second overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft out of North Carolina, Williams has never panned out to be the superstar his draft position designates he pan out to be, but at age 30, he has found his niche as a stretch four with Charlotte. He should begin the season at the power forward for the Hornets, being pushed for minutes by second-year man Frank Kaminsky.
Entering his third season in the NBA, Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic is an enormous question mark. He played in all 82 games as a rookie two years ago, but started only three games; last season, he started 38 games, but averaged only 24.9 minutes per game. He shot 39 percent from long range, averaging 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Mirotic will most likely be the back-up to power forward Taj Gibson to begin the season, but with Chicago’s backcourt being so futile from three-point range, he may be needed more than he has in previous seasons due to his ability to stretch the floor.