The NBA just got a lot more fun, and the Clippers just got a lot more interesting.
After years of being considered one of the best, if not the best, non-NBA players in the world, Serbian Milos Teodosic has finally arrived in the league, signing a two-year deal worth $12.3 million with the Clippers, including a player option for next season.
Following the departure of Chris Paul in a sign-and-trade with the Rockets, the Clippers recouped by landing Danilo Gallinari at the long-coveted small forward spot and have now shored their backcourt with one of the most exciting players in Europe as their starting point guard. It’s a low-risk gamble, and here’s why.
Who Is Milos Teodosic?
Teodosic is a 6-foot-5 point guard whose rise to popularity began in 2009-10 when he won Euroleague MVP as a member of the Greek club, Olympiakos, averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. His highlight reel from that year begins with him lining up to take a free throw, because when you can pull off moves like these below, you have to warm people up. Everything here—from his dazzling passes to his off-balance shots—feels magical.
That’s where the legend takes off. If you’ve never heard of Teodosic, now’s the time to acquaint yourself. He just turned 30, two years younger than CP3, and his virtual filing cabinet is not lacking in résumé-building highlight videos.
Quick aside: I love that this video begins with a hard-rock prelude, followed by Teodosic smoking a cigar and subsequently running circles around defenders to the tune of a sentimental piano jam that makes it feel more like an in memoriam for all the opposing players he fooled than a highlight reel.
Teodosic exudes confidence and creativity in his jaw-dropping plays without being too brash. His panache injects a must-watch quality into half-court sets that might otherwise be glazed over. He makes passing a main-event draw.
Teodosic has played for some of the most renowned clubs in international basketball. In 2011 he signed a deal with CSKA Moscow, where he led his team to the Euroleague Finals, losing to his former club Olympiakos. He has improved statistically in every Euroleague season, being named to the all-league first team three times, culminating with an overdue championship in 2016.
Internationally, he’s already had a prosperous career, winning gold medals with the youth teams and leading the Serbian senior team to silver medals in the 2009 EuroBasket, 2014 FIBA World Cup, and the 2016 Olympics. During the tournament in Rio, Coach K called him one of the best guards in Europe.
Whenever he steps foot on the court for the Clippers’ first preseason game won’t be his first experience competing against an NBA team; in 2013, Teodosic dropped 26 points and nine assists in an exhibition between CSKA and the Timberwolves.
What Does He Bring to the Clippers?
Maybe getting over the hump and winning a title in 2016 is what Teodosic needed to finally give the NBA a shot. The Clippers, meanwhile, provide an ideal blueprint for his impact to be felt immediately.
Teodosic and now-Clipper Patrick Beverley were teammates in Greece for a year during the 2009-10 season (Beverley reportedly used his Serbian teammate’s name as a hotel alias). Their reunion in the backcourt looks to be seamless on paper. Beverley will be the brawns of the operation, while Teodosic will impart his surgical finesse to an offense that will revolve around Blake Griffin. The resilient enforcer and the creative facilitator, both of whom can shoot nearly 40 percent from 3.
But perhaps the biggest benefactor from Teodosic’s arrival in L.A. will be Griffin himself. As the anchor and focus of this new-look offense, Griffin’s evolving role to lead option should only be helped by Teodosic’s pass-first mentality. I mean, look at this:
It’s like he’s been basketball-bred to have eyes not only on the back of his head, but all around it, swiveling and alert at every angle. So, when DeAndre flies toward the rim this season, or if Blake ever wants to dive back into the practice of rim-running again, Teodosic will be there already, one step ahead of them with a pass already in the air waiting for their monstrous oop to his alley. Lob City might not be dead, after all. Long live Lob City.