The Brooklyn Nets have been a team in flux. Every offseason since the team's move to Brooklyn, the supporting cast and coaching staff have been altered. Injuries have forced them to revise their system. One player who has been the steadying force on the Nets roster has been Bosnian sharpshooter Mirza Teletovic.
Teletovic has been the longest tenured Net not named Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, or Joe Johnson. Coming into the league at 27, Teletovic struggled to fit in the team's rotation under Avery Johnson and later P.J Carlesimo. However, with Jason Kidd at the helm, Teletovic found his niche as the Nets stretch four and resident gunner. Now, in year three of his career and experienced enough to take a bigger load of responsibility, Teletovic isn't just a three-point shooter anymore.
The forward has added a new facet to his game, an off the dribble game. Last season, 80 percent of Teletovic's shots came with no dribbles. This season, the "King of Bosnia" has become a threat to take defenders off the bounce, as seen above. This season so far, Teletovic is taking 69 percent of his shots without dribbling, and 12 percent of his shots with only one dribble, up from six percent last season. This development has made him an even more dangerous player as teams now have to take into account that he is going to go inside the three-point line. It can be seen in his shot chart, one that shows not only accuracy, but variation.
Teletovic is shooting at least the league average from every basic zone on the floor, per NBA.com. He is strong enough to finish around the rim, but can also knock down a floater from eight feet, or a turnaround jumper. Teletovic's game has developed into one that cannot be taken lightly by teams. This guy can score, and can score from all over the floor.
This is a shot distribution chart provided by NBA.com. Here, one can see that Mirza still opts to shoot above the break, which is fine considering that's his defined role, but the other (about) 44 percent of his shots are evenly distributed around the floor; more of his shots come at the rim (nearly 20 percent) than from just inside the three-point line (9.4 percent).
The Nets are dangerous with a stretch-four like Teletovic on the floor. He keeps the floor spaced, but has shown he can also kill teams from inside. In the last few games, in fact, Teletovic has been off from beyond the arc, but has still been able to score. Which begs the question: should Mirza be in line for more minutes?
He's been the Nets sixth man this season, and started a game in relief of Kevin Garnett Saturday in San Antonio. The Nets were at their best last season when they went small, and maybe the Nets should go small(er) this season. I'm not calling for KG to be taken out of the starting lineup in favor of Teletovic, but there is a big enough sample of a lineup consisting of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Teletovic, and Brook Lopez, to suggest that Mirza should continue to see more minutes. That lineup has logged 38 minutes together, the second most of any Nets lineup this season, and the team has looked solid. That lineup has scored 112.6 points per 100 possessions, nearly nine points better than the team. While it may seem that this lineup would have a severe drop off on the defensive end, it's not all that bad. The five has a defensive rating of 109.2, not a good mark by any means, but in small doses the great offense reigns supreme.
With the struggles of Mason Plumlee in the early stages of the season --Jerome Jordan has been receiving more minutes than the second-year pro over the past few games—Teletovic seems prime to continue to be the first frontcourt player off the bench, but for how long?
The sharpshooter is going to hit restricted free agency at the end of this season, and a number of teams are going to send an offer sheet his way, especially the teams that covet a stretch four like the Rockets and possibly the Suns.
A player with his skill set could conceivably get a contract similar to the one Channing Frye got in Orlando with the Magic. The two are similar players on the offensive side but Teletovic has proven to be a better defender. The Net has a defensive rating of under 99 this season, while Frye posts a defensive rating of 107 in his first year in Orlando. Frye signed with the Magic for four years and $32 million. Good thing for Brooklyn is that they aren't afraid to spend-plus the team has Teletovic's Bird Rights, meaning they can offer him whatever they want.
Teletovic's rise to prominent NBA player has been fantastic to watch. He is a joy to watch on the floor, catching fire like he's a real-life NBA Jam character, or pissing off superstar forwards. Brooklyn would be wise to make sure The King is part of their core for the distant future, because the best is yet to come from Bosnia's finest.