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LA Clippers 2017-2018 Player Previews: What Can Miloš Teodosić Bring To the Clippers?

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One of the best basketball players in the world outside of the NBA for several years, Miloš Teodosić will need to adjust his play to the NBA. But in terms of skills, he has plenty to offer right away.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers-Media Day Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Basic Information:

Height: 6’5’’

Weight: 194 pounds

Age: 30

NBA Experience: Rookie

Position: PG/SG

Key Stats: 16.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in 27.6 minutes for CSKA Moscow in Euroleague play. Shot 44.4/38.1/89.7, taking 7.0 threes and 4.0 free throws per game.

Contract Status: 2 year, $12.3 million dollar contract. Player option for $6.3 million in year 2

Expectations:

At age 30, Teodosić didn’t come over to the NBA to sit on the bench, especially when the Clippers invested over $12 million in him. Outside of external factors, he’s good enough to play minutes right off the bat, NBA adjustment or no. He will, however, be joining a crowded backcourt rotation that includes Patrick Beverley, Austin Rivers, and Lou Williams—all accomplished NBA players who need at least 20 minutes per game. On the other hand, none of them (outside maybe Beverley) is good enough to demand well over 30 minutes on a consistent basis either. Therefore, it makes sense that Teodosić would be right in that mix, playing around 20-30 minutes split between both guard spots. It wouldn’t be surprising if Miloš started off playing a little bit less as he eases into the challenges of NBA competition, and picks up minutes as the season goes along (providing he plays well, of course).

What Miloš Offers:

Shooting:

There is an 18-minute video of Teodosić on YouTube called “Milos Teodosic Shooting”. If you guessed that it was 18 minutes of Miloš taking nothing but threes... you would be correct! The FIBA line is a little shorter than the NBA line, true. But after just a few minutes of watching film or highlights, it is easy to predict that Miloš will likely be a plus-shooter from long range in the NBA. He has a very quick release: compact, easily replicable, and with good elevation. At 6’5’’, Miloš should be able to get his shot off against almost any point guard in the NBA, and against most shooting guards as well.

Even more exciting, Miloš is willing and able to take all kinds of threes. He can make them from the top of arc, from the wings, and from the corners. He pops them running off screens, on simple catch-and-shoots, and off the dribble. He can shoot them dribbling left or right, and has the ability to pop them quickly out of the triple-threat position. Finally, many of the threes he took in Europe were well behind the line. Which means that they were deep enough to be NBA threes. Since he’s already comfortable from that distance, I’d expect his shooting to be NBA-level right from the beginning.

Pick and Roll Play:

While the Clippers’ other guards are all (very) competent NBA players, none of them are particularly proficient at running an offense. Beverley is closest to being a true point guard, but even he is more of a secondary ball-handler who can create once the defense is shifted. Miloš Teodosić was the leading playmaker on some of the best teams in Europe, and is a guy who can get an offense going as both a scorer and a passer.

One of his greatest strengths is in the pick-and-roll. His shooting ability makes it necessary for defenders to go over the screens or for the big man to hedge out, opening up paths to the rim for either Miloš or the player setting the pick. If Miloš is left open, he gets an easy jumper. When he penetrates the key, he is adept at finishing around the basket, or at finding other players once the defense collapses. And if the defense adjusts, leaving the roller (or another perimeter player) open? Well, he’s one of the best passers in the world, and can generate assists from all angles.

The best news of all for Clippers’ fans is that Miloš has never played with such talented pieces around him before. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are both eons better pick and roll players than anyone Teodosić has played with, and he should delight in hitting them for easy lobs and buckets around the rim. Beverley, Danilo Gallinari, and the Clippers’ other wings are all above-average shooters, and will feast on the open looks that Miloš gifts them. There is definitely some worry that the length, size, and athleticism of NBA players will bother Miloš’ passing and shooting, but it would be a shock if he was flummoxed as a pick and roll player for more than a few weeks.

Fun:

Miloš should be a good NBA player, yes. He should also be a joy to watch play basketball, and I couldn’t be more excited to see him in a Clippers’ jersey. Just look at these passes. Some of them are truly unbelievable, passes only a couple other players in the world could even think of, let alone make work. Hopefully we will be blessed with a few of these gems this season.

Bad Defense:

Not all is sunshine and roses. Miloš was one of the worst defenders at his position in Europe, and nothing is likely to change when he gets to the NBA. Some of that ole defense was due to lack of effort—an issue that could be fixed now that Teodosić is at the top level of basketball in the world. However, much of it is simply due to his poor instincts, and below average-lateral speed. Some players just aren’t able to grasp defensive techniques and awareness, and Miloš might be one of those guys. Even when he does try and knows where to be, he gets taken off the dribble far too easily. DeAndre Jordan is going to have a busy season protecting the rim, and Doc will need to construct his lineups carefully so that they aren’t unbalanced in one direction or another (no Lou Williams-Teodosić-Harrell trifectas, please). I think Miloš’ offensive game will strongly outweigh his defense, but there’s no denying that it will be very tough for him to guard NBA players out on the perimeter, especially if he’s starting.

Final Thoughts:

It remains to be seen what Miloš Teodosić will be in the NBA. I have a lot of faith that he will be able to be a strong positive performer for the Clippers this year, yet doubts about his defense and ability to hold up under an 82-game schedule are definitely present. If all goes well, however, the Clippers could have a Rookie of the Year candidate for the first time in a number of years.