Look for playing time to increase for Mirza Teletovic

Mirza TeletovicMirza Teletovic‘s Role Will Expand

Weren’t things already bad enough for Brooklyn Nets fans? With such high hopes coming into the season, the 9-19 record so far has been quite the pill to swallow. Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have all missed their fair share of games but the team’s overall health seemed to be improving. Nets fans couldn’t fully panic because they had not seen much of the team’s full lineup, so there still was hope………..until the Brook Lopez news came out on Saturday…….then all hope was lost.

Fortunately for readers, this article is not dedicated to the reality of the situation, which to Nets fans is truly painful. Instead, with the Lopez injury, this now opens up an opportunity for the big Bosnian Mirza Teletovic. When the injury first occurred, it seemed like a no-brainer that the big winner was Andray Blatche. In every game he had started prior to the Lopez injury, he had produced double-digit points. However, since the opportunity presented itself, it has in fact been Teletovic who has run with it. Mirza Teletovic’s role will expand further as the season goes on for a myriad of reasons. Let’s start with #1.

The main reason I expect Teletovic to continue to produce is the sheer injury-prone nature of the rest of the team. Like I said in the first paragraph, at one point last week the team’s health seemed to be improving. Guess not. Combine that with the lax nature of coach Jason Kidd handing days off to players like candy and you have plenty of opportunity. Garnett has been active for 25 of the team’s 28 games but he only plays a little over 21 minutes per contest. Lopez, when healthy, was playing over 31 minutes a game, so there are plenty of minutes to spread around at this point. Teletovic really isn’t a center so he won’t directly take Lopez’s minutes. Kidd will instead get creative and play Teletovic at the power forward while giving some unorthodox minutes at center to guys like Blatche and Garnett. If the Nets find an opponent playing small ball, then it will be Teletovic’s time to shine at at center. Also, Garnett and pretty much any player will get the game off if they are not truly 100%. That’s just the way the culture has been so far under Kidd. On Garnett’s nights off, Mirza Teletovic’s role will expand even further. On regular nights, he and Blatche will fight for the most minutes of any player in the front court. The bottom line is in the last three contests, Teletovic has played 27.3 MPG: during that time, he has averaged just 0.4 PPG less than Deron Williams and 0.2 less than Joe Johnson. Admittedly, that is just a small sample size, but it shows you how important Mirza could be moving forward.

Teletovic is a pretty underrated talent. Under his belt, he has 11 years experience of playing professional basketball. He’s basically a seasoned vet. His career began in the professional Bosnian league, where he averaged 7.2 PTS and 2.7 REB per game as a 17 year old. In year two, he increased his numbers to 26.4 PTS and 6.6 REB in 17 games in the league. From there, he moved onto the Belgian league where he stayed for two seasons. He averaged a mediocre 6.7 PTS and 2 REB during that stint. Finally, he joined the Euroleague club Saski Baskonia (a first-tier level team). In his first season, he came off the bench and averaged just 5.3 PTS and 2.8 REB. From there, he developed into a starting player over the next three seasons. Eventually, he became the team’s captain. In 2008, he was awarded the Spanish League Rising Star Award. Just one year later, he won the MVP of a mid-season three game Spanish King’s Cup tournament. Before I move on, you get the point here, don’t you? He started out as a young, raw talent in overseas ball and developed into an excellent player. Sometimes it takes a while for the light bulb to turn on, and his turned amidst playing many years of professional ball. Many overseas players go along similar paths. Anyways, in the 2011-12 season, he averaged a career-high 21.7 PTS and 6 REB. From there, he had nothing left to prove overseas. He reached a buyout with Baskonia and decided the NBA was his next stop. In 2012, he agreed to a contract with the Nets. There, now you have the history of Teletovic’s development. Now you can see why he always looks like a polished player on the court.

Since arriving in the league, Teletovic has been a productive player. Per-36 numbers are usually a decent guide for players with limited minutes. As a rookie, Teletovic projected as a 13.6 PT, solid 3-PT shooting and 7 REB kind of power forward. Typically, big men who can shoot is the Euroleague way. The numbers have actually increased this season for MZ: 14.9 PPG, 3.2 3PM and 7.4 REB per-36 minutes which doesn’t show his minutes have increased from 9.4 to 17.2 per game. I don’t see why the minutes don’t continue to increase, so his numbers should creep closer and closer to that output. If you are looking for a Mehmet Okur reincarnate, then Teletovic will be a big help to your fantasy team. Yes, Mirza Teletovic’s role will expand for the Nets and should also expand for your fantasy team. Start him.

I’m not quite sure exactly how the Nets’ rotation will look from here on out, but I’m confident Teletovic will be a big part of it. Garnett, Blatche and Teletovic will be the main three in the front court rotation, and Teletovic has been by far the most productive. Unless Reggie Evans plays extensive minutes, the Nets will not be a good rebounding team, so they will have to rely on offense from the big men to win games. Right now, Teletovic is their best offensive option, so expect him to continue producing. Don’t be shy to add him off waivers in 12+ team leagues. Besides, 2.0+ 3PM, upside type players are virtually impossible to find off the waivers at this point in the season. Act now and by season’s end, you may have struck gold.

Let me know what you think of my take on the big Bosnian Mirza Teletovic from Brooklyn by commenting on this article or hitting me up on twitter.

Author: Ricky Sanders, @RSandersFR

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