How is Mirza Teletovic getting so open?

How is Mirza Teletovic getting so open?
Mirza Teletovic
Mirza Teletovic has been a bright spot off Brooklyn’s bench. (AP)

Mirza Teletovic scorched the Dallas Mavericks for a career-high 34 points on Friday night, including 24 points in the second quarter alone.

“There’s a lot of open space,” Teletovic said after the game. “We have so many shooters, we have Joe (Johnson) standing in one corner, Paul (Pierce) standing in another corner, so they’re like, ‘OK, let’s leave the guy from Europe open, maybe he’s not going to make it.”

It’s possible, but unlikely that opposing teams are disrespecting Teletovic due to his limited NBA success (although Dallas newspapers are). NBA coaching staffs have one main responsibility: scout, scout, and scout some more. It’s tough to believe that opposing teams disregard a 42.6 percent three-point shooter because of his nationality.

Teletovic has picture-perfect form, backspin on his jumpshot, tremendous lift on his shot release, and newfound confidence under coach Kidd. But just as important, he’s the beneficiary of playing alongside players that command respect from opposing defenses, as well as exceptional coaching that allows him to get wide-open looks with regularity.

Let’s take a look at how Teletovic burned the Mavericks for a career high seven three pointers.

Here’s the first Teletovic three in the 2nd quarter — his first of six in that frame:

The Nets run a high pick-and-roll with Deron Williams and Andray Blatche, with Teletovic setting up on the weak side wing. The action forces Vince Carter, guarding Teletovic, to help on Blatche’s roll to the rim.

Carter’s help gives Teletovic just enough space to slide over and receive as swing pass from Williams. Carter tries to recover, but it’s too late.

This has been Brooklyn’s go-to play this season with Teletovic on the floor. With defenses paying attention to Williams and the roll-man, it’s near-impossible to cover this particular action to perfection.

This next three pointer was Teletovic’s third of the game. As Williams pushes in semi-transition, Teletovic trails him. DeJuan Blair, who’s responsible for picking Teletovic up, falls asleep and allows Teletovic to get a wide-open look from the top of the key:

Though a blatant mistake by Blair and the Mavericks, this play shows that the team’s improved defense has given Teletovic more wide-open looks: without a defensive stop on the other end, the Nets wouldn’t have been able come down the court in semi-transition against a set Dallas defense.

YES analyst Jim Spanarkel summarized this next shot rather well: “You see, that’s ridiculous.” Take a look:

This time, the Nets try and run the same play as Teletovic’s first made three: the high pick-and-roll with Teletovic stationed on the weak-side wing. The Mavs implement a new, more effective strategy though: they trap the ball-handler (in this case Williams) restricting the swing pass to Teletovic on the wing.

The trap forces Williams to dump the ball off to Jason Terry on the strong-side wing. Terry calls for Garnett to set a screen for him. As Garnett comes up to set it, Andrei Kirilenko vacates the area leaving the Mavericks confused.

Because of all the confusion, Teletovic’s man (Shawn Marion) clogs the paint to cover Kirilenko’s cut and Garnett’s roll.

As Terry uses the screen, he sees Marion sag off Teletovic and swings a cross-court pass to him on the opposite wing. Though Marion plays it about as well as he could have, Teletovic is unfazed by the hard close-out and hits his sixth three-pointer of the 2nd quarter.

While Teletovic struggled with consistency last season, Jason Kidd’s willingness to run sets to free up Teletovic has been rewarded.

It wasn’t always this way. Teletovic struggled through a rookie season that saw two different head coaches, neither of which had any confidence in the 6’9″ Bosnian. He struggled to start the 2013-14 season, at one point telling The Brooklyn Game he wasn’t sure if he had a role on the Nets.

But with Brook Lopez out for the season, Teletovic has thrived. In the 16 games since Lopez’s injury, Teletovic has played 22.6 MPG, scored 12.1 PPG on 49.3% FG, 43.4% 3PT shooting and 90% FT shooting.

The combination of Teletovic’s shooting ability paired with his teammates and coach’s aptitude to make plays for him have led to much needed breakout season.

Above all though, Teletovic has something that was missing last season: confidence from his coaches and teammates.