Teletovic Poised For a Breakout Season

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When he first arrived in Brooklyn, Mirza Teletovic was strictly a jump shooter that wouldn’t bother attacking the paint and crashing the boards. It was apparent that he was still adjusting to the pace of the NBA and the sheer athleticism of it’s athletes. His rookie season, he was anchored to the bench by Avery Johnson and PJ Carlisemo, among the likes of Toko Shengelia and Tyshawn Taylor. Averaging less than 10 minutes a game, Teletovic had minimal opportunities to show the Brooklyn Nets’ faithful why he was snagged from the Euroleague for 10 million dollars.

After yet another coaching change before the 2013 season, Mirza’s minutes nearly tripled under Jason Kidd. From the inset, it was apparent that Teletovic would thrive given his chance to receive consistent playing time. As the season progressed, he was able to counterbalance his perimeter shooting with the ability to take defenders off the dribble. He was able to turn in an impressive Sophomore campaign, draining 136 triples while shooting 39% from beyond the arc. Kidd doubled his minutes from the previous season and Mirza responded by averaging 8.6 points per game in addition to pulling down nearly four rebounds a contest.

We’ve always known he had the ability to score in bunches from his Euroleague highlights, but fans were excited to see his skillset translate to the NBA. Each game, his confidence appeared to increase with each clutch shot or spectacular finish at the rim. The best example of this was his 34-point performance against the Mavericks in January. He was unconscious from beyond the arc and had zero hesitation when pulling the trigger on a transition three or attacking the rim. It was on that night, where the legend of Mirza Teletovic was born.

Fast forward to opening week of the 2014-15 season. Teletovic is entering the final year of his rookie contract and his role on the team has vastly expanded with the arrival of Lionel Hollins. Barely into the young season, he’s averaging nearly 25 minutes a contest, making the most of his opportunity. Monday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder  was yet another example of Teletovic’s confidence growing. Only scoring 8 points in 21 minutes, he was active on the glass and wasn’t shy about taking the ball to the basket; which we’ve seen more of in the first three games. It would appear that he is hoping to shed his role of a “gunner” in Hollins’ new offense and use his athletic frame to score around the rim more often and another dimension to the Nets’ potent lineup. Teletovic finished with 9 points and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

As mentioned previously, Mirza’s role has expanded to provide instant offense from the second unit in addition to more activity on the glass. Offseason departures to Paul Pierce, Marcus Thornton, Andray Blatche and Shaun Livingston have depleted the Nets’ bench and will lean on players such as Jarrett Jack and Teletovic for scoring help. Mirza’s ability to score from deep will make things easier when Hollins turns to his bench. His size will continue to cause matchup problems on offense while his defensive prowess will be on display against teams with ample big men on their roster (Detroit Pistons game last Saturday).

To say that Mirza will be a double-digit scorer on a consistent basis would not be a surprise to anyone who’s watched him play in the past year. Assuming he gets a steady dose of minutes each game from Lionel Hollins, expect Teletovic to anchor the second unit with the capability to start if necessary. His improvement last season allowed him to elevate his game in crucial moments, whether it was crunch time or against the East’s best in the postseason. Nets fans will be hoping for more of the same in 2014-15.  We’ll be sure to continue to track MT3’s third year in the association.

Go Nets.