By Cody Westerlund-
CHICAGO (CBS) – Twice now in the past three games, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has used the 6-foot-10 Nikola Mirotic at small forward for short stretches alongside two other big men, instead of his customary power forward spot. It's significant because that marked a change in thinking for Thibodeau, who as far back as last summer after Chicago's signing of Mirotic said he didn't envision using him at small forward because it would create too many defensive troubles for the Bulls.
Now, Mirotic's continued development and offensive versatility has caused Thibodeau to be more open-minded, and it sounds like the experiment will continue when matchups allow for it.
"There's been some good and bad, but we got to keep working at it," Thibodeau said. "It's going to take some time. I think it's hard for him to pick up two positions right now. So when he does play at the three, it limits what you can do. It's a very small package we're using (offensively and defensively).
"Defensively, I think we can cover in certain situations … It's OK.
"You're going from being a post guy to a perimeter guy. The perimeter guys, those three spots are pretty interchangeable in many ways. And the two bigs are interchangeable. There's a lot of differences between small and big, so that's what he's adjusting to."
Interestingly enough, it sounds like offense, not defense, is why Thibodeau is now hesitant to use Mirotic at small forward.
"I also don't want to take away from his aggressiveness," Thibodeau said. "I think he has a distinct advantage at the four because he can outquick those guys."
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