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By the numbers: 53 G, 0 GS, 9.4 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .384 FG%, .818 FT%, 47.4 TS%, 46.2 eFG%
Advanced: 12.3 PER, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg, 19.4 USG%, 7.8 ORB%, 14.8 DRB%, 11.2 TRB%, 7.7 AST%, 1.4 STL%, 1.2 BLK%, estimated 0.9 win shares.
The 2012-2013 season was supposed to represent a new beginning, the Brook Lopez revenge tour, the Deron Williams revival tour, the Andray Blatche traveling circus, etc. But there’s one pre-season storyline that people forget about. This year was supposed to be the Year of the Mirza.
After rumors swirled about the foreign star verbally agreeing with Brooklyn for 3 years & $15 million, the Bosnian signed with the Nets for the mini mid-level exception (three years, $9.68 million), hoping Teletovic would be the reliable source of outside shooting that the Nets had in Anthony Morrow. Yet, much like most early expectations in Brooklyn, everything pertaining to Mirza Teletovic went out the window quickly.
Mirza, lauded for his quick-trigger sharpshooting, couldn’t find a place in Brooklyn’s rotation as said sharpshooter. Sometimes he shined, but often he frustrated. Mirza would often over-rotate on defense or not rotate at all, getting completely lost in the process and allowing an easy lay-up. He infamously airballed three shots in a row against Detroit, giving the majority of Nets fans major PTSD of their historically bad New Jersey teams.
But, then, sometimes, Mirza Teletovic made you think that he had a bright future in the NBA, no matter how fleeting the moment was. There was the early January game in Brooklyn against Sacramento where Mirza dropped 14 points, 6 rebounds and had two athletic blocks in 21 minutes; all capped off by a dunk that gave us the nickname “Air Mirza.” (See below.)
Or, there was that game at the end of year against Washington — a game for all intents and purposes mattered very little, the same one that Tornike Shengelia dominated —- where Mirza tallied 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block, shooting 50% in 25 minutes. In the moments in which Mirza Teletovic played the best, it wasn’t difficult to see him finding his NBA niche; unfortunately, those nights were hard to find in Brooklyn this year.
Presumably, Teletovic was signed by the Brooklyn Nets with the intention to use him as the back-up PF behind Kris Humphries, a man that would stretch the floor and open things up on the block for Brook Lopez. But when things went south with Humphries, it was Reggie Evans who received most of the minutes, eventually taking over the position completely.
On March 1st, things looked up for Teletovic. Then-interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said that the rotation would be tightened in order to get Mirza more minutes (which translated to kicking Humphries to the bench completely). In that stretch between the 1st and 18th of March, Mirza received double-digit minutes of playing time in nine straight games, culminating in a revenge game versus Detroit that lead the announcers to exclaim: “Not only did he hit the rim this time, but he made it!”
That night, Mirza went a perfect 4-4 from the field with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal and one block.
But Teletovic struggled from the field, the Nets went 5-4 over that stretch, Kris Humphries rejoined the rotation, and Teletovic’s minutes bottomed out again, this time for good.
Moving forward, Teletovic needs to work on his defense, his offense wasn’t what placed him at the end of a short bench all year. Teletovic often brought energy and hustle, but struggled with rotational help and positioning, leading to miscommunications and frustratingly wide-open attempts for the opponent.
For all of Teletovic’s frustrations or shortcomings this year, there were few Nets players as exciting as Mirza. Every time he touched the ball, it had a fair chance of going up. Eventually dubbed MT3, Teletovic had a funny way of embodying most of Brooklyn this year: frustratingly confusing at his worst, entertaining at his best.
Next year will be the real Year of the Mirza, hopefully. This summer, Teletovic should hit the court and work exclusively on his defense, because it’s really the only thing holding him back from a more consistent role.
Besides, we know that he’s shooting every ball he catches — and he’ll never want it any other way.
Low Point: When you type “Mirza” into YouTube’s search engine, “Mirza Teletovic airball” is a top three result. So that. This was certainly Mirza’s low point, aside from the inconsistent playing time. In front of an oddly strong contingent of Bosnian supporters, Mirza airballed three shots in a row against Detroit.
High Point: The Sacramento game. I was lucky enough to actually be in attendance that night in Brooklyn; and it is undoubtedly the moment that I fell hopelessly in love with that perfect jumper. Two incredibly athletic blocks topped off by Air Mirza? Teletovic’s best game this year, by far.
Honorable Mention: His twitter handle is @Mirza46479432, and the last thing he posted was a picture from March of him after building a snowman. Mirza Teletovic, ladies and gentlemen.
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Deron Williams | Joe Johnson | Gerald Wallace | Reggie Evans | Brook Lopez | Andray Blatche | C.J. Watson | Keith Bogans | Kris Humphries | MarShon Brooks | Mirza Teletovic | Tyshawn Taylor | Tornike Shengelia