Mirza Teletovic on Twitter
Weight: 240 lbs.
Date of Birth: September 17, 1985
Years Pro: 2
Before NBA: Caja Laboral Baskonia (Spain)
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.