Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler are injured, and Nikola Mirotic has picked up the slack in their stead, making him a good waiver wire pickup if available.
Nikola Mirotic, F Chicago Bulls
Tom Thibodeau and the Chicago Bulls are desperate.
Without Derrick Rose (knee) and Jimmy Butler (elbow) for an extended period, and without Taj Gibson (ankle) for at least the next couple of games, perhaps owners should get a little more familiar with the “rookie” deemed “ThreeeeeKoLaaaaa” in the Windy City.
Nikola Mirotic isn’t really a rookie—he’s an experienced professional who has plenty of international basketball under his belt, and he’s part of a prestigious club as a two-time winner of the “Rising Star” award, given to the best young player in Europe. Although he has been on the outside looking in of the rotation when everyone has been healthy in the Windy City this year, he previously flashed his ability to contribute when the team was shorthanded, and he’s doing it once again now that the Bulls are down Rose, Butler and Gibson.
Entering Thursday’s affair, Mirotic had gone off for a combined 52 points and 17 rebounds over 62 minutes of action. That’s good for averages of 26 points and 8.5 rebounds while seeing under 32 minutes per game. Pretty good for the guy they call a rookie, right? Despite Gibson’s improving health, Butler and Rose are going to be out for a while longer, and there’s just no way the Bulls can deny Mirotic a consistent role in the rotation when Chicago is so starved for offensive production. It doesn’t matter where his minutes are coming from, it just matters that he remains on the floor.
This is peak Mirotic, and it’s hard to envision a scenario where he finds a better opportunity to establish himself as a permanent member of your team’s roster.
Jeremy Lin, PG Los Angeles Lakers
I’ve been critical of Jeremy Lin all season for his performance on the basketball court. And for good reason.
With just a raw second-round pick in rookie Jordan Clarkson and a washed-up Steve Nash as his “competition” for minutes at the point, Lin found himself in a great position upon his trade to Los Angeles. When Ronnie Price was added to the mix in training camp, no one gave it a second glance. And again, for good reason—Lin was a favorite of mine leading into drafts as a sleeper with a ton of upside, but it took less than a month for him to fall off the face of the earth and totally off my fantasy radar.
That’s no longer the case.
Since the All-Star break, Lin has been on absolute fire. Over his last seven games, he’s averaging 17.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 triples on a cool 50 percent shooting from the field. Now that he’s got a (much) longer leash from head coach Byron Scott, Lin is finally playing relaxed basketball and finding success in the process. With an increased emphasis on the pick-and-roll game, specifically with Ed Davis (who Lin has had success with all season), the 26-year-old has looked the best he has at any point since wearing the purple and gold over the last several contests.
While it’s not going to be enough to earn him a future with a Lakers team that doesn’t know what it will look like next season (a familiar theme in Lakerland over the last couple of seasons), Lin is showing that he’s indeed a talented NBA player who has a role in this league—just not the one everyone wanted to project for him when he burst onto the scene in New York.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Charlotte Hornets
I don’t understand how Michael Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t owned in 100 percent of leagues at this point.
MKG has a double-double in four of his last five games. He has scored in double-digits in his last seven contests. But that’s not what’s most impressive about his evolution this season—no, those are just parts of the growing equation. In all seven of those contests where he has scored in double figures, Kidd-Gilchrist has shot at least 50 percent from the field.
Much has been authored about how Kidd-Gilchrist has broken down and reworked his shot with Mark Price, and while his field goal percentage this season is sitting in the same 47 percent range that it was last season, his numbers since coming out of the All-Star break have painted a much clearer picture of where he stands in there here and now—and that’s what we care about when considering his value to your team. The worst thing a fantasy owner can do is ignore patterns and trend based on names and history—that’s how to lose out on waiver-wire pickups and lose leagues in the process.
Since the All-Star break, Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 14 points, 9.3 rebounds and 0.9 steals on an impressive 54.5 percent from the field. It’s not like he’s playing a complementary role either—the Kidd (get it?) is playing a whopping 35 minutes per contest over the last seven contests.
I’m not going to sit here and say that the third-year Kentucky product is going to elevate the ceiling of your team, but there’s no denying the steady (even if unspectacular) production that Kidd-Gilchrist brings to any club right now.