Bulls' Mirotic: 'I'm not feeling the same confidence I was before'

by
Raj Mehta / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Nikola Mirotic's sophomore campaign stands in stark contrast to his 2014-15 rookie season.

The Montenegrin finished second in the NBA in Rookie of the Year voting only to Canadian phenom Andrew Wiggins, helped by an impressive 11-game run in March where Mirotic averaged 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks.

Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg has had to shift this season's lineups constantly due to his team's struggles to stay healthy. After seeing himself fall in and out of the startling lineup in just 41 games, Mirotic admitted he hasn't been mentally at 100 percent lately.

"I'm struggling a little bit now and not shooting well," he told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. "I'm not feeling the same confidence I was before."

Comparing Mirotic's rookie and sophomore years:

MPG TS% WS PER
2014-15 20.2 55.6 5.7 17.9
2015-16 24.0 52.5 2.2 14.2

In an average of nearly four more minutes a game, Mirotic is contributing an estimated three fewer wins for the Bulls, a drastic dropoff for the 24-year-old.

All the Spain international can do for now is hope he'll somehow channel the star performances that put him on everyone's radar.

"The only way to get it back is to work hard and stay positive," said Mirotic. "I need to forget what happened yesterday.

"I'm not scoring easy baskets. I'm not running like before. I'm not making those open threes. I'm not doing things in the low post. But if I can do it last year in March, I can do it this year, too. I think it will come soon."