Rather than put their tails between their legs, the Nets have to figure out a way to make up Brook Lopez’s production, now that the team’s starting center will be out for the season. Sure, the Nets have gotten off to a slow start, but the Atlantic Division is very weak, and even without Lopez, Brooklyn still has arguably the best roster if everyone else is healthy and contributing.
Jason Kidd has a few options when it comes to his new starting lineup. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett are locks, but Kidd can then fill out the lineup in some creative ways, and one way he looks committed to is leaning on the Bosnian sensation.
He could insert Andray Blatche as the starting center and keep Garnett at the four and Alan Anderson at the three. Or, Kidd could go with Teletovic at the four, Garnett at the five and Anderson, or even Paul Pierce, at the three.
There are even a few other combinations, but these seem to be the most likely. Frankly, I like the idea of starting Teletovic, and actually, it has more to do with keeping Blatche in a reserve role.
Billy King indicated the Kevin Garnett's minutes would not go up. Instead, Teletovic will shoulder more of a load at power forward. Blatche has looked great coming off the bench all season, and for some reason, he seems much more comfortable taking control with the second unit than playing more as a role player with the starters.
When Johnson and Williams are on the floor with Blatche, no one wants to see Blatche settling for tough jumpers. But on the second unit, he’s the main source of offense. So that then leaves Kidd with the option of starting Teletovic.
To be honest, I’m not crazy about Garnett at the five. While he’s definitely the Nets’ best defender, I’m worried that he physically will not be able to stop some of the game’s bigger centers. And same goes for Teletovic defensively. Yes, we’ve seen that Teletovic can pour in three-pointers left and right, but his poor defense has been the reason for his sporadic playing time. Imagine that in a starting role, as opposing teams would surely attack Mirza.
But at this point, making up for Lopez’s offense is more important than his defense. Teletovic gives the Nets the most scoring potential, and that’s what Kidd should be focused on. Teletovic is averaging 6.6 points per game in 16.5 minutes, but he’s shot extremely well from three-point range, hitting on 41.4 percent of his shots from downtown. We all know that the Nets are not a strong defensive team anyway – even when Lopez was healthy. So in that case, the team needs to maximize its scoring potential to try to compete with other teams. The rotation with Teletovic as a starter and Blatche coming off the bench seems to be the best option.
So Garnett, Teletovic, Anderson, Johnson and Williams would be the starting five, with Blatche, Pierce, Shaun Livingston and Mason Plumlee contributing on the second unit. And If Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry ever return, the Nets would still be a deep team. Of course, losing an All-Star center is painful, but it’s still early enough in the season – and the division is weak enough – that the Nets could overcome this loss.
Even if Kidd decides not to start Mirza on certain occasions, he’ll still get considerable minutes. But just based on the way the roster is assembled right now, starting Teletovic gives the team more depth on the bench.