Mirza Teletovic’s role clearer than ever

Mirza Teletovic

Mirza Teletovic
Mirza Teletovic, confident. (AP)
One month ago, The Brooklyn Game reported that frustrated Brooklyn Nets forward Mirza Teletovic wasn’t sure if he had a role in Brooklyn with the Nets.

One day ago, Teletovic set a career-high in points for the third time since that interview.

What a difference a month makes.

Since November 27th, Teletovic has played in all but one Nets game, and played at least 20 minutes in over half of the team’s games. The team’s struggled with inconsistent playing time and injuries, but unlike last season, Teletovic has had a comfortable role the entire month, responding with seven games with double-digit scoring and six games with at least three three-pointers.

“His comfort level and confidence is extremely high,” Kidd glowed of the 27-year-old second-year forward. “He’s getting shots. Guys are finding him, but he’s not just relying on the three-point shot. He’s putting the ball on the floor making plays for his teammates. He’s playing extremely well for us right now.”

Teletovic has also showed off his instincts as a passer. Though his assist rate is largely unchanged from last season, Teletovic has swung the ball around to teammates more intently this year, while still getting shots for himself. He’s not waiting on the wings for someone to give him the ball, he’s an active member of the team’s five-man offense.

It has been a rapid transformation for the Bosnian forward, who struggled with inconsistent playing time, a coaching change, and his shot in his first year in Brooklyn. His only real chance to start came in a three-week stretch in March, in a move by interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo that was more about benching Kris Humphries than giving the stretch 4 a real look. Teletovic was sent to the bench once again after his best game in the stint.

But after a report from Yahoo! Sports that alleged Kidd’s inability to give players clearly defined roles, Teletovic praised Kidd for communicating with him directly, offering a not-so-veiled shot at former coaches Avery Johnson and Carlesimo.

“Jason’s approach towards me is different then… what I had before,” Teletovic told The Brooklyn Game at his locker, choosing his words carefully. “He comes and talks to me. He just finished his career as a basketball player. To have somebody like that, talk player-to-player like teammates, it’s a different experience. He knows how to explain to me and talk to me, (and it) gives me confidence.”

Through 29 games, Teletovic already has nearly as many minutes (394) as he did all of last season (499), and he’s responded with increases in his three-point percentage, free throw rate, and rebounding. He’s broken his career-high in points three times this year, including his most recent 19-point game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night.

With Brook Lopez sidelined for the season, Garnett playing more time at center, and Andray Blatche away from the team for the next three games, the Nets will continue to rely on Teletovic to provide his offensive spark.

The general consensus for his turnaround? The fact that they’re seeing him at all.

“He’s got a lot more playing time this year,” Deron Williams said of Teletovic, smiling. “That’s big. I think he definitely had a frustrating year last year. He’s always been one of the top European players, so when he comes over here, it’s an adjustment for him. He’s sitting on the bench for the first time in his life. So I think it got his confidence down. But I think he’s playing with a lot more confidence this year, and it’s definitely helping us.”

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