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Posted on: October 10th, 2014 by William Rausch Comments


teletovic laughMirza Teletovic on Twitter
Height: 6'9"
Weight: 240 lbs.
Date of Birth: September 17, 1985
Years Pro: 2
Before NBA: Caja Laboral Baskonia (Spain)
Drafted: Undrafted
Nickname: MT3, Fearza
- Full Stats -

It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Brooklyn Nets Bosnian import. The 6'9" Teletovic came stateside for the 2013-14 season as a celebrated Euroleague player, and figured to challenge for the starting power forward spot in Brooklyn. Neither Nets coach Avery Johnson, nor interim successor P.J. Carlesimo, saw it this way, and Teletovic only played 9.4 minutes per game in just 53 games.

It didn't help that when the Nets actually did #FreeMirza, he did things like airball three straight shots in front of a Bosnian-rich crowd in Detroit. 

Conversely, 2014-15 saw Fearza enter the season with little expectations, only to become an important cog in the Nets aging wheel.

The short-lived Jason Kidd regime saw Teletovic’s minutes more than double to 19.4 per in 72 games. For Teletovic, it was a a new lease on life. He splashed the smirk seen 'round the world against King James. He assimilated to Brooklyn life with hipster glasses. He joined Twitter. He went from airballing threes in Detroit to dropping 20 on the Pistons in Brooklyn.

Most importantly, he became the Nets best 3-point shooter not nicknamed after a prominent religious figure. Teletovic improved his three-point shooting to 39%, draining 136 shots from deep.

With starting power forward Kevin Garnett on an inexorable march to AARP membership, and Paul Pierce departing for D.C., Teletovic is poised for an even bigger role as a stretch four for the Nets in 2014-15. Yes, new Nets coach Lionel Hollins ran Grizzlies teams predicated on post play and defense, neither of which are Teletovic’s strong suits. But in his opening presser, Hollins expressed his desire to play a more up-tempo style than the Nets did last year and he noted that he has more shooters in Brooklyn than he did in Memphis. Sounds like a system where Teletovic fits.

To ultimately win over Hollins, Teletovic will need to improve on the defensive end. He'll never have the lateral quickness necessary to guard wings, so he'll have to focus on increasing his strength to become an effective post defender. If this Bosnian interview is any indication,Teletovic will get where he needs to be physically if he sticks to his wife's cooking. 

That interview was given in late August while Teletovic was helping his homeland qualify for EuroBasket 2015, leading Bosnia to a 4-0 record in the second round of qualification as the top scorer in the rounds at 26.3 points per game. Teletovic would have rather played this summer against Nets teammates Mason Plumlee (USA), Jorge Guiterrez (Mexico) and Bosnian native/Croatian national, Bojan Bogdanovic. But Bosnia was denied one of the four wild card spots to the 2014 FIBA World Cup, something Teletovic -- not unsurprisingly -- disagreed with

Teletovic will return stateside a newly minted 27-year-old making $3.4 million in the last year of his contract. I'd like to see him stay longer. He is a useful rotational player, he's entertaining, and the man has no conscience when it comes to hoisting up the rock. Just check his things on YouTube, man. This unwavering fealty in his shot does have its liabilities (see: Detroit, 2013), but it also led him to setting a franchise record for threes in a playoff game with six in a Game 2 loss to Miami in May. 

This Pandora's box of Teletovic was never more apparent than in Philadelphia in April, when Fearza followed up a crunch time three airball with a crunch time three drain job. It was nerve-wracking. It was dramatic. It was the spirit of Bosnia. It was Brooklyn Nets basketball. 


Posted on: October 9th, 2014 by William Rausch Comments





Height: 6'7"
Weight: 210 lbs.
Date of Birth: October 26, 1993
Years Pro: 1
Before NBA: Triumph Lyubertsy, Russia
Drafted: 19th overall, 2013 NBA Draft
- Full Stats -

You may know Vladimir Nabokov as the author of Lolita. If you’re a particularly literate basketball fan, maybe you’ve read Pale Fire. But unless you’re related to Mikhail Prokhorov, you almost certainly haven’t read any of his nine Russian language novels, which include The Gift, a dense, semi-autobiographical work exploring a man's exodus from Russia.

In July, the Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics completed a three-team trade that freed up cap space for the Cavaliers to reunite King LeBron James with Cleveland, gave the Nets a replacement for the departing Shaun Livingston in Jarrett Jack, and landed the Celtics a first-round draft pick from the Cavaliers as well as the mercurial Marcus Thornton.

The Cavaliers were so set on shedding salary in the deal that they sent 19th overall pick in the 2013 draft Sergey Karasev and his $1.5 million salary to the Nets. While Jack is a full decade older than the lanky Russian swingman, Jack, a native english speaker and the much more celebrated half of the Nets haul, is the Lolita of the trade. Karasev is The Gift: less celebrated, Russian-speaking, and possibly the true gift of this deal.

The 6'7" Russian swingman saw the majority of his rookie season playing time down in the D-League, where he averaged 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game on 45.6 percent shooting in 18 games for the Canton Charge, alongside his new Nets teammate Jorge Guiterrez. Karasev was treated like a yo-yo, being assigned and recalled from the D-League 10 times by the Cavs. When in the Association, he managed just 37 points and 156 minutes of action in 22 games.

The lack of playing time doesn't mean the southpaw can't play. In Cleveland he was caught behind a logjam of recent lottery picks, including Kyrie Irving, Dion Waters and Anthony Bennett. Karasev entered the league about as seasoned as a 19-year-old could be, having earned an Olympic Bronze with the Russian national team in 2012 and leading the Russian PBL -- one of the best basketball leagues in the world outside of the NBA -- in scoring at 18.4 points per game.

The sharpshooting Karasev will find it difficult to get time at shooting guard behind seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson and proven back-up Alan Anderson, not to mention the time Jack will spend as a combo guard. At 6'7" he'll need to put some weight on his frame to play small forward, but he'll find it hard to find playing time there either, behind countrymate & Karasev idol Andrei Kirilenko and rookie Eurostash Bojan Bogdanovic.

But getting Karasev wasn't about this year. The Nets have always been high on the gangly foreigner, recently admitting they targeted him with the 22nd pick of the 2013 draft, which they ended up using to take Mason Plumlee. Despite his weight issues and defensive shortcomings, Karasev's basketball IQ and shooting touch mean he has a chance to be a legit NBA swingman. Euro expert and former St. John's Red Storm coach Fran Franschilla recently said that Karasev would have been a top five-to-seven pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

The Nets will have the rights to Karasev, who is entering the second year of his rookie deal, for at least the next two years. The Gift, or Дар, was written between 1935 and 1937, but wasn't published in English until 1952. Here's hoping that Karasev's game translates to the NBA a bit more expeditiously.


Posted on: September 28th, 2014 by William Rausch Comments


Projected record: 22-60, 14th in East


Jason Kidd

New Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd. (AP)

Head coach: Jason Kidd
2013-14 record: 15-67
2013-14 ORtg: 100.2 (26th)
2013-14 DRtg: 108.9 (29th)
Players in: Jason Kidd (coach), Jerryd Bayless, Jared Dudley, Michael Eric, Damien Inglis, Kendall Marshall, Johnny O'Bryant, Jabari Parker
Players out: Larry Drew (coach), Jeff Adrien, Carlos Delfino, Miroslav Raduljica, Ramon Sessions, Ekpe Udoh
Projected Starting Lineup: Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Larry Sanders

"Kafkaesque" was the word I once used to describe the history of the New Jersey Nets prior to Jason Kidd the player's arrival in 2001, so it makes sense that Kidd's one-season tenure as coach ended up just as surreal and illogical.

Scratch that. It was bats—t insane.
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Posted on: September 28th, 2014 by William Rausch Comments


Projected record: 19-63, 15th in East


Sam Hinkie, Nerlens Noel

76ers GM Sam Hinkie (forefront), with 2013 draftee Nerlens Noel (background). (AP)

Head coach: Brett Brown
2013-14 record: 19-63
2013-14 ORtg: 96.8 (30th)
2013-14 DRtg: 107.5 (27th)
Players in: Keith Bogans, Nemanja Dangubic, Joel Embiid, Pierre Jackson, K.J. McDaniels, Dario Saric
Players out: James Anderson, B.J. Mullens, Adonis Thomas
Projected Starting Lineup: Michael Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten, Hollis Thompson, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Nerlens Noel

The last two songs on Philadelphia hip-hop group The Roots’s latest album, 2014's ..And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, are "The Unraveling" and "The Tomorrow."... ">MORE →


Mason Plumlee

Mission Accomplished.
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In the latest installment of Mason Plumlee Travels The Universe, the USA Men's National Basketball Team slayed the Dragic brothers, defeating Slovenia 119-76 in the Quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup in Barcelona, Spain Tuesday. The Americans improved to a perfect 7-0, and will now play Lithuania in the semifinals of the tournament on Thursday.

Plumlee got his customary six minutes of play with the game out of hand, checking in with 5:44 left in the fourth and the score at 102-69 in favor of the good guys. The Nets young big man put on a show in the final two minutes: following up his own post-up miss with a jam, then exhibiting a deft passing touch by lobbing an alley-oop pass from the top of the circle to Pistons big man Andre Drummond for the slam. Then, the Duke product caught a touchdown pass from Klay Thompson and jammed it home with his left hand as a Slovenian defender held on to his right for the foul. He couldn't put the cherry on the garbage time sundae, however, missing his free throw attempt. Plumlee finished up with a stat line of four points, two rebounds, one assist and one turnover.

Slovenia did in the first half what 16 seeds hope to do in the NCAA tournament: they "hung around." The Slovenians matched the red, white and blue's 20 points in the 2nd quarter to keep the score a respectable 49-42 at the half.

But as so often happens in NCAA tournament games and Dream Team era USA basketball, the dominant team was just too much. The Americans opened up a nine-point lead halfway through the third quarter to enter the final frame up by 22.

One of Fran Fraschilla's keys to the game for Slovenia -- who had a "puncher's chance" according to the ESPN analyst -- was to limit the Americans to no offensive boards. Team USA had 14 offensive rebounds in the first quarter and finished with 24 for the game, well above their average of 12 per game in this tournament.

Fraschilla also felt the Slovenians needed to make 16 threes to stay with the Americans. They only managed 8-27 from behind the arc, including a 1-5 mark from the team's star, Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns. USA, on the other hand was an efficient 9-19 from three. Four of those treys came from Golden State Warriors guard Thompson, who led all scorers with 20.

Plumlee's already scarce minutes will likely get even more rare as Team USA heads into the semifinals against Lithuania, currently ranked fourth in the FIBA world rankings. The Lithuanians, led by young Raptors big man Jonas Valančiūnas, defeated Turkey 73-61 on Tuesday to advanced to the showdown with Team USA.

The Lithuanians and the USA have history. USA only won 99-94 against them at the 2012 Olympics. The five-point win was the smallest margin of victory for the King James-led patriots. Anthony Davis and James Harden are the only holdovers on the 2014 World Cup roster from that stacked 2012 Gold Medal team.


Thunder Nets Basketball

60th overall pick and Nets draftee Cory Jefferson. (AP)

Since 1976, the last pick in the NFL draft has been referred to -- with tongue firmly planted in cheek -- as  "Mr. Irrelevant." The dubious honor even comes with some hardware, "The Lowsman Trophy," a play on the Heisman with the player fumbling a football.

The NBA's version of Mr. Irrelevant has changed quite a bit over the years. The most recent king of irrelevancy is Brooklyn draft property, as the Nets selected Cory Jefferson with the 60th and final selection in the 2014 draft with a pick that they bought from the San Antonio Spurs. The 6'9" Baylor product has a legitimate chance to make the Nets roster, and if he does he would be the third Mr. Irrelevant in four years to make the NBA following Isaiah Thomas (2011, Kings) and Robert Sacre (2012, Lakers).

It hasn't always been number 60. From 1948 to 1986, the draft did not have a limited number of rounds, with teams picking until they did not want to pick any longer. This system produced Mr. Irrelevants like Willie Horton -- no, not THAT Willie Horton -- in the 21st round of the 1968 draft, and Steve Martin -- not that Steve Martin either -- with the 202nd overall pick in the 1979 draft. Like virtually all Mr. Irrelevants of this era, neither ever played in the NBA.

The NBA drafts of yesteryear were so long that Carl Lewis -- actually, yes, THAT Carl Lewis -- was drafted 208th overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1984, despite never playing high school or college basketball. But even with basketball absent on his CV, the ten-time Olympic medalist in track and field wasn't Mr. Irrelevant, as 20 players were taken after.

The probability of a Mr. Irrelevant making an NBA roster increased exponentially as the NBA draft was curtailed to seven rounds in 1987, then three rounds in 1988, and finally the current two-round system in 1989. While more Mr. Irrelevants have made NBA rosters since the late 1980s, their relevancy has not increased all that greatly, with only one player averaging over 7 points per game in an NBA uniform.

In honor of Mr. Jefferson, let's look at the non-illustrious history of the top three "Mr.Irrelevants" in NBA history.



Andrei Kirilenko

Andrei Kirilenko (AP)

In this series, we at The Brooklyn Game examine the players on this Nets roster that have a decision to make -- and what the Nets can do. Today's look is at Andrei Kirilenko.
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LeBron James, Deron Williams

Deron Williams (AP)

Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams underwent successful surgery Tuesday morning on both ankles, the team announced.

The surgery was performed by Nets foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Martin O'Malley. “The arthroscopic surgery performed today on Deron’s left ankle included the removal of spurs from the front and back of the ankle, as well as a cleaning out of his ankle joint," said O'Malley. As for his right foot, "Deron underwent a procedure on his right ankle to remove a loose bone fragment that was below his right ankle joint."

D-Will is expected to be on crutches for four to six weeks, at which point O'Malley says he can begin "light basketball activities." The three-time All-Star should be able to resume full basketball activities in September, according to O'Malley, and is expected to be ready to go come training camp.

Williams missed 18 games this past season, largely due to a sprained left ankle. In 32.2 minutes per game he averaged 14.3 points, 6.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds, all below his career averages.

Since arriving to the Nets franchise in February of 2011, Williams has been plagued with injuries throughout his body. His ankles have been a constant bugbear, but despite numerous cortisone shots and platelet-rich plasma treatments, he never had surgery on his ankles until this past Tuesday. However it is not the nine year pro's first trip under the knife, as he had season ending wrist surgery back in April of 2011.

Earlier this month, Deron Williams expressed frustration with his performance and confidence in a Nets uniform. The Nets hope this surgery leads to a return to form for their franchise point guard, as he is owed roughly $63 million through the 2016-17 season.


LeBron James

The Heat & the Nets go for at least four more games. (AP)

The New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets do not have an illustrious history against the Miami Heat. In the NBA regular season, the 26-year-old Heat hold a 59-45 edge over the itinerant Nets franchise. The disparity is even more pronounced in the playoffs, with the Nets winning a solitary game in two playoff series against the Shaquille O'Neal/Dwyane Wade-led Heat in 2005 and 2006. In the first three years of the Heat's Big Three era, the mid-move Nets went a big 0-for-9 against Miami in the regular season.

But that was before Truthball came to the boroughs. Led by Lebron-nemesis Paul Pierce, the new-look elderly Nets swept the defending back-to-back champions in all four 2013-14 regular season matchups. Four wins won't come so easily against the Heat in the playoffs, so let's recap the good times from the regular season while we still can.



Ed. Note: this originally ran on May 4, 2013, and has been updated.

This won't come as a surprise, and if it does you don't even have a rudimentary understanding of the NBA, but the Nets don't have as illustrious a history as the Los Angeles Lakers. Shocker. The Lakers are an NBA team from the league's second season in 1947, while the Nets are a 1960s ABA team turned NBA expansion franchise in the late 70s. The Lakers have Wilt, West, Kareem, Magic, Kobe and Shaq. The Nets have Jason Kidd and three seasons of Dr. J in the ABA.  The Lakers have 16 NBA championships and the Nets have 2 ABA titles.

So when you learn that the Nets have only been in seven "Winner Take All" games in franchise history to the Lakers' 26, it shouldn't surprise you. By "Winner Take All," we mean the final game of a series, that the winner of the game wins the series. That's either the fifth game of a best-of-five series, which the NBA used to decide first round series from 1984-2002, or the more popular seventh game of a best-of-seven series.

Starting with game seven of the 1970 ABA first round against the Kentucky Colonels, here's a history of all seven "Winner Take All" games in Nets franchise History, in which the Nets have a 4-3 record overall.

Start Here: April 29, 1970

Paul Pierce vs. Amir Johnson

Posted on: April 18th, 2014 by William Rausch Comments


Paul Pierce, Amir Johnson

Amir Johnson vs. Paul Pierce is the most unorthodox matchup of the series. (AP)

By the numbers:

Paul Pierce: 75 G, 68 GS, 28.0 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .451 FG%, .373 3P%, .826 FT%, 16.8 PER
Amir Johnson 77 G, 72 GS, 28.8 MPG, 10.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG, .562 FG%, .303 3P%, .636 FT%, 15.4 PER


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