By Marco Munno
For the past five years, perhaps no player from the Old Continent has been more deserving of bringing his talents to the New World and modern NBA than CSKA Moscow’s Miloš Teodosić.
The 30-year-old Serbian point guard has tantalized Euroleague crowds for years with his sleight-of-hand passing and assortment of trick shots, earning the nickname, The Magician.
In his few games against NBA players—including the Olympics and a 2013 preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in which he scored 26 points to go with nine assists—Teodosić has shown he belongs on the same court for at least as small sample size. Now, he’ll get the opportunity to show he can do it over a full season, signing a two-year, $12.3 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.
After losing Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, the Clippers have a long ways to go towards proving the show isn’t over in Lob City. Can Teodosić be part of the solution?
Teodosić’s most important attribute is his basketball IQ, which is present in all plays but is best emphasized in the pick-and-roll.
His passing is among the best in the world, but in order to utilize it in the NBA, Teodosić will have to show he’s enough of a scoring threat to pull defenses in his direction.
In the pick-and-roll, he’s able to create for himself despite not being the most athletically gifted, combining his handle and 6-foot-5 frame with soft touch, timely fakes and an assortment of shots.
Teodosić is always playing up off his heels, ready to transition quickly into a hop for a quick-release three-pointer if a defender goes under the screen:
The combination of the two stresses every decision for the rim protector in pick-and-roll situations, putting the defense at a disadvantage.
If Teodosić can get these aspects of his game to translate even adequately, the court will be an open canvas for his greatest art, passing to the roller:
Teams often try to counter by constantly blitzing his pick and rolls, hoping to take advantage of his questionable athleticism; which Teodosić makes up for with a variety of looping passes from funky angles:
Being a pass-first player, Miloš Teodosić is wonderful at reading weak side defensive rotations, distributing the ball to teammates out of his secondary reads:
And obviously, he can generate fast breaks; especially with more room to operate on the wider NBA courts and his unique flair:
In the Clippers, Teodosić has stepped into a comfortable fit. His passing should activate Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan as downhills threats, or Griffin’s short roll playmaking game. His shooting ability should also play well in Griffin’s expanding roll as a playmaker.
And with Jordan protecting the rim and Patrick Beverley in the same backcourt, making his way to Los Angeles as part of the Chris Paul trade, the Clippers have the means to mitigate the tactic most often used against Teodosić, which is constantly targeting his defense with physical, aggressive attackers.
With Chris Paul gone, the Clippers lose a lot of their potency. But at the very least, with Teodosić stepping in to direct some of the Clippers’ attack with his passing wizardry, you’ll still believe men can fly in Los Angeles.