Nikola Mirotic has the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award for March pretty much in the bag, the Bulls forward seems to be well on his way toward the Eastern Conference Player of the Month designation. Big award for a guy who was averaging just a little over 14 minutes per game a month ago.
It was that lack of playing time back in February that might cost the Spanish and Montenegrin basketball player the Rookie of the Year award. As he missed a lot of playing time, other candidates got big minutes and put up solid stats. Nikola Mirotic is making a case for himself with his superb play in the month of March, but it might be too late for the guy, who put up 28 points against the Charlotte Hornets yesterday. His performance last night was nothing short of amazing, the forward put up 28 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block and 2 assists in just 31 minutes of playing time.
Mirotic lifted the Bulls in the fourth quarter with 14 points and made Charlotte’s defense look bad. Even though the rookie has been putting up double digit games recently, he is still averaging 9.7 points per game in 19 minutes. He doesn’t appear to be as crucial to the Bulls playoff race as Derrick Rose or Jimmy Butler, but he is playing great basketball.
Now let’s talk about another candidate, Andrew Wiggins. The small guard overcame a slow start to the season and is averaging a solid 15.8 points per game and 4.3 boards. Pretty good for a guy who experts say still needs two more years to reach his full potential and become a star.
Of Course, Wiggins is getting way more minutes than Nikola. The first pick of last year’s NBA Draft is playing 35 minutes a game, after injuries to Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin.
Then we have Nerlens Noel, who is still considered a rookie after being drafted in 2013 and missing last season with an injury. The Sixers big man has turned up the heat and is playing like a baby Hakeem Olajuwon, averaging 13.2 points per game and four blocks/steals in just 30 minutes.
Last but not least, we have Elfrid Payton, who is putting up insane numbers in a bad team. The Orlando Magic point guard has taken the league by surprise with a couple of triple doubles recently. Payton became the first player ever in Magic history to record a triple-double in two consecutive games and first since rookie Antoine Walker did it back in 1997. Elfrid is looking like a young Rajon Rondo, with excellent court vision and great athleticism.
Nikola Mirotic, who is averaging 21 points and 8.3 rebounds in only 31.3 minutes per game, may end up winning the East’s Player of the Month award, but will probably not take the coveted Rookie of the Year award. Will the Bulls give him more playing time?