Nikola Mirotic Move Impacts Eastern Conference Playoff Race
How Nikola Mirotic Move Impacts Eastern Conference Playoff Race
July 8, 2019
Nikola Mirotic has been one of the biggest success stories when it
comes to international players coming to the NBA in the modern era. But
Mirotic shocked the world when he announced that he was going to be
leaving the NBA to play basketball in Europe going forward. And not
only was that move shocking, but it could also have massive
implications on the balance of power in the Eastern Conference as teams
look poised to move up and down as a result.
Mirotic chose to join
Barcelona as a free agent, moving to the Spanish basketball club
instead of remaining in the United States. The move makes plenty of
sense for Mirotic, whose style of play has always been compatible with
the way that teams play in Europe. But for all of the good that the
move did for Mirotic and Barcelona, it sent shockwaves through a couple
of franchises who could have used his services.
Perhaps the biggest impact for a team with the Mirotic decision is on
the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers were set to offer Mirotic a massive
contract which, combined with a returning Victor Oladipo, could
have made them a contender in the Eastern Conference. With Kawhi
Leonard leaving the conference and the Boston Celtics losing Kyrie
Irving, Indiana missed out on a big opportunity to become one of the
top teams in the NBA's weaker conference.
Also losing out on the Mirotic decision was the Milwaukee Bucks, who
had Mirotic last season and could have brought him back for the
upcoming year. Mirotic was a huge piece for a Bucks team that finished
at the top of the Eastern Conference last year. And with Giannis
Antetokounmpo on the roster, there's no reason to believe that the
Bucks won't contend for a conference title again this season. But
losing Mirotic is a huge blow to their depth, which will be a factor as
the upcoming season wears on.
Even without Mirotic, the Bucks will likely be considered one of the
favorites to win the Eastern Conference. NBA picks regularly
tabbed Milwaukee as the class of the conference last year, and have
even more reason to do so this year. Aside from the rapidly
ascending Brooklyn Nets and their acquisitions of Kevin Durant and
Kyrie Irving, there isn't another team in the conference that
looks like a legitimate threat to the Bucks.
And while the Bucks look like they will be heading toward the Eastern
Conference Finals for a second straight year, Nikola Mirotic will help
Barcelona become one of the most dangerous teams in European
basketball. The Catalan squad is often a contender in Spanish
basketball, but fell just short in their domestic final against rivals
Barcelona have also struggled in Euroleague play in recent years. With
an NBA veteran in their corner, they should be better equipped to
tangle with some of the elites of the Euroleague such as the Turkish
sides and CSKA Moscow. Both domestically and internationally, expect a
more potent Barcelona side in the near future.