Mirza Teletovic is on fast track for NBA savvy

Mirza Teletovic lines up a shot during team

Mirza Teletovic lines up a shot during team practice held at the PNY Center. (Oct. 2, 2012) (Credit: James Escher)

Rather than rising up and firing off a shot from long distance, something the Nets brought him in to do, Mirza Teletovic pulled off a deke that caught Joe Johnson off guard.

"He's pretty much a pure shooter, but he has so many other aspects to his game," Johnson said Friday after practice at the PNY Center in East Rutherford, N.J. "I've seen him do a pump fake, get in the lane and shoot a floater. I didn't know he could do all that."

Teletovic, 27, could be an integral piece of the Nets' puzzle. The 6-9, 242-pound Bosnian native is learning on the fly, trying to master his team's philosophies while adapting to the rules and regulations of another league, in a new country. After struggling through the first few days of practice with the Nets, learning how to do various drills and other routines that were new to him, things are beginning to fall into place a bit.

"I feel more comfortable," Teletovic said. "I know the guys. I know what to expect from everybody. I know where to be on my spots with all the spacing and the timing and everything. I'm getting really good at it."

Given that his role will be to stretch the defense from long-range at power forward, Nets coach Avery Johnson wants to see more catch-and-shoot action from Teletovic and less fakes.

"I told him he's just got to take his shot," Johnson said. "Camp has been pretty hard so far, so I know from a fatigue standpoint, his legs are probably not as strong, especially coming out of the European [championship] games. I just want him to take his shot. I know he can make it.

"I just don't like when he fakes his shot and puts the ball the floor on the times when he's wide open. I'm just letting him know that I have a lot of confidence in him taking his shot. He'll make it and it's an adjustment period."

Six-time all-star shooting guard Joe Johnson has also been in Teletovic's ear, offering up a little friendly shooter-to-shooter advice.

"In this league you have to have a short memory," he said. "So there may be nights you may go 0-for-6 or 0-for-7 from three, but the next night, that can't be in your mind. You have to be able to go 6-for-8 or 5-for-7 from three. Biggest thing I try to tell him is just have a short memory. Shoot the ball. Don't worry about the last shot."

Teletovic's defense also remains a work in progress, and since his coach stresses that more than anything else, it's imperative for him to improve rapidly.

"This is a very defensive team," Teletovic said. "It has a lot of explosive guys, a lot of physical guys that can play defense. I think I'm one of them. These last few days, I've started to learn the position, how to help and play the pick-and-roll, where I have to stay, where I have to rotate and everything.

"There's just a lot of styles of basketball and the way you want to defend is one of them. I'm just getting to know it."

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