Win or Lose vs. Dubs, Nikola Mirotic Turned Pelicans’ Season Around Post-Boogie

The New Orleans Pelicans weren’t supposed to be here.

Two games after a 44-point, 23-rebound, 10-assist, four-steal masterpiece against the Chicago Bulls, DeMarcus Cousins’ season ended when he tore his Achilles. Usually, when a team loses one of the league’s nfl cheap jerseys most talented big men in January, the outlook isn’t bright.

Deservedly, Jrue Holiday’s heroics, Anthony Davis’ superhero play and Rajon “Playoff” Rondo’s energy at the right time (again) have overshadowed Mirotic’s work. But because of his ability to defend at a high level and his fit within the offense, he helped save the Pelicans’ season.

Power forwards have to check a lot of boxes to be able to compete in the varying landscape of today’s NBA. Versatility is more important at the power forward spot than any other. They must be able to chase wings nfl jerseys cheap china around screens, switch onto point guards, defend pick-and-rolls in space and bang with bigs in the post.

Mirotic has never been thought of as a great defender. It’s true he doesn’t serve as his team’s stopper at the rim, but in overall defensive ability, he’s never gotten his due credit.

“No idea,” he told Bleacher Report when asked why he has a reputation nfl jerseys as a poor defender. “Sometimes, with Europeans, white guys, they think they can’t guard. It’s not true.”

Mirotic may not be a defensive anchor, but among power forward and centers who played a minimum of 1,490 minutes, he was one of seven players in the league with a block percentage above 2.1, a steal percentage above 1.3 and a defensive rebounding percentage above 24.5. Anthony Davis was the only other power forward to do it.

Mirotic’s awareness puts him in position to make plays, but in the playoffs, he’s shown even more versatility. Against the Portland Trail Blazers, he switched onto Damian Lillard for seven possessions and nfl jersey surrendered just two points. He allowed CJ McCollum six points on seven possessions.

The ability to switch out onto one of the most offensively lethal scoring threats and make life difficult is a win for the Pelicans. He shows the mobility to keep Lillard in front of him and the timing to get a hand up and contest even if he gets beaten. His athleticism and mobility that challenged the Blazers at the point of attack was a huge reason why the Pelicans advanced to the second nfl jerseys china

“I do know what I’m capable of, and I know what I’m not,” he said. “I’ve always been comfortable switching with the smalls, blitzing the pick-and-rolls, moving my feet well. Sometimes, like I said, you have a superstar and whatever you do, they’re going to score on you.”