It’s been quite the year for Nikolas. Well, two of them anyway. A week after Denver’s Nikola Jokic earned NBA MVP honors for the second time in as many seasons, Nikola Mirotic was voted the EuroLeague equivalent. The former Chicago Bulls’ forward scored 16.6 points per game for Barcelona and became just the second player ever to shoot at least 65% from inside the arc, 45.5% from deep, and 85% from the charity stripe.
With numbers like that, Mirotic would have been an ace in the hole for most teams in the Association this season. But the 31-year-old, who spent four seasons with the Bulls before stops in New Orleans and Milwaukee, appears to have been justified in his decision to return overseas three years ago.
While Nikola Mirotic chose to leave the states to find it, he isn’t the first former Bull to discover greener pastures elsewhere.
(Sorry Ben Gordon.)
Otto Porter Jr.
The oft-injured 28-year-old played more regular-season games in his first stint with Golden State (63) than he did in three seasons with the Bulls (54).
After averaging 8.2 points and shooting 37% from three-point land for the Warriors during the regular season, Porter Jr. is currently playing in the most meaningful games of his nine-year career. He scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting with six rebounds in the Warriors’ 112-87 victory over Dallas in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Wednesday, leaving him three wins shy of his first Finals appearance.
Once part of the package the Chicago Bulls used to swap for Porter Jr., Portis has found a home in Milwaukee. He helped the Bucks clinch their second title in franchise history last year. And this season, with Brook Lopez missing a boatload of games due to a back injury, Portis averaged a career-high 14.6 points on 47.9% shooting from the field and 39.3% from behind the arc.
The kicker? Portis was one of the thorns in the side of his former team this postseason, averaging a double-double as the Bucks dispatched the Bulls in five games.
Since being traded five years ago, Butler has three All-NBA and All-Star game nods, two All-Defensive Team designations, and one phenomenal Finals performance to his name.
Of course, there were four fateful bounces, two stops, and one infamous practice along the way. But, even as Zach LaVine has become a two-time All-Star in his own right and one of the most efficient scorers in the league, his arrival and Butler’s departure continues to be a hotly-contested debate to this day.
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