Mirza Teletovic has arrived in Brooklyn, but his shot is still en route
Most of the questions about the Nets' roster were answered before the preseason began.
The starting lineup—Brook Lopez at center, Kris Humphries at power forward, Gerald Wallace at small forward, Joe Johnson at shooting guard and Deron Williams at point guard—was never in doubt. Moreover, the backups at each position were pretty solidified, with Andray Blatche at center and Mirza Teletovic at power forward the only questions. Josh Childress at small forward, Keith Bogans at shooting guard and C.J. Watson at point guard were set as well.
Blatche, a reclamation project who was let go by the Washington Wizards, has come to camp ready to retrieve the form that saw him 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds for the Wizards in 2010-11. He's averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds over the first two games. At this level, Blatche would be one of the finest backup centers in the league.
Teletovic, however, has struggled early on. He shot just 2-for-13 on Saturday night in a 108-105 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, and just 1-for-4 against the Washington Wizards in a 98-88 win on Monday night.
What is interesting about the Nets deploying Teletovic, an import who'd been an elite scorer in the Spanish League, is that they have a more conventional option at the power forward position in Reggie Evans, a rebounding/defense specialist they signed this summer as well.
But despite all the talk from coach Avery Johnson about defense, the Nets are betting that Teletovic's offensive skills will provide the kind of production the second unit needs. It isn't a crazy notion, either: Bogans is no scorer, Watson is a defense-oriented point guard, Childress is not much of a perimeter shooter, leaving only Blatche and Teletovic to score for the second unit.
Even among the starters, Teletovic is supposed to be the best three-point shooter. But at the end of Monday's game, though Teletovic was wide open a number of times from three, defenses elected to collapse on Johnson and other penetrators instead.
No one seems to doubt that Teletovic will find the scoring touch that made him a career 40.5 percent three-point shooter in European play.
When asked what his plan was to right Teletovic after Saturday's struggles, Johnson responded, “Shoot 20 times.”
But if he cannot replicate that accuracy in the N.B.A., the Nets could find themselves with fewer offensive options than they'd like, and no real perimeter safety valve.
Their three-year deal with Teletovic means he'll be given plenty of time to work it out. In a preseason where so much else is going right, from the offensive execution of the starters to the Blatche resurgence, it is the biggest thing for the Nets to worry about right now. And no one seems very worried.