Every playoff series has an unexpected hero, a backup who swings a game or two on the heels of something like ridiculous shooting, lockdown defense, or utter control of the glass. Even the record-payroll Nets franchise will need their role players to come up as the game’s spotlight gets brighter and brighter. In this video, I explain the two reasons why my X-Factor for this Nets playoff run is Nets forward Mirza Teletovic.
To add to the video, I’m going to mix sports metaphors for a second: Mirza Teletovic is the basketball version of a LOOGY. For the uninitiated, a LOOGY in baseball is a “left-handed only one out guy,” a highly specialized relief pitcher that comes in with one job: get the dude who’s left-handed out, and get back to the clubhouse where you can hang out and watch TV until the game’s over.
Similarly, Teletovic has one job in these playoffs: get open on a pick-and-pop play or sneaking on the weak side, shoot threes, and make them. When he plays with the starters, he gets open an incredible amount — per the NBA’s optical tracking data, Teletovic shoots 40 percent on 3 uncontested threes per game, or over 7 per 36 minutes.
If defenses spend more time worrying about everyone else on the floor who can create off the dribble, and Teletovic gets free… He could hawk a lot of killer LOOGYs in a seven-game series.