Back in October, as the winds from Hurricane Sandy dissipated, we had a chance to talk with Mike Fratello about the Nets trio of young Euros, all of whom he had seen as coach of Team Ukraine the month before.
What Fratello said back then about the skills of Tornike Shengelia, Mirza Teletovic and even Bojan Bogdanovic bears repeating now deep in the season, as the Nets management and ownership assess the development of the three of them.
Fratello liked what he had seen in the FIBA Eurobasket Qualifying Round but said they --and Nets fans-- would have to have patience.
"All of them have a real high upside. We had to face them in for real-games or exhibition games.
"Shengelia is athletic, has size. I hear or read people say his shot needs improvement. That's all a matter of confidence. He can finish athletically and emphatically. He is a really good prospect for them.
"Teletovic will be a surprise. He's more athletic than you think he is. He is stronger. People may have to be patient.
"Bogdanovic is really a good scorer," he said, adding with a bit of a sigh, "We were up 79-77 with four seconds left. He has the ball, our guy is in right spot, has his hand in front of the ball and Bogdanovic cocks it back a little, shoots it a little higher, makes the three and we lose, 80-79. He is very confident, he gets to the foul line. Fans are going to be happy when he comes over."
Fratello also had a message for European players and, by extension, the fans.
"As with the case of Drazen Petrovic, they can get down early. They can’t lose confidence, lose sight early, like Drazen did with Portland. He was a rock star in Europe, comes here and makes the move. Then, they worry about not playing. There wasn’t minutes for him. Do you give a guy who hasn’t played in the NBA the minutes? The coach and the GM were under pressure to produce.
"Petrovic got discouraged, then he came to New Jersey and became he old Petrovic," Fratello concluded. "Players have to understand. They got to put their heads up. their time will come."
The Nets remain committed to Teletovic and Shengelia, with more than one insider saying they received "multiple" offers from other teams about both, more than any other players on the team. The front office did not budge. They have mult- year commitments: Teletovic for two more years and $6.7 million; Shengelia for one more year and $800,000 ... Plus luxury taxes. Like Fratello, they intend to be patient.