International Nets Adjusting to America

Brooklyn Nets huddle
The Brooklyn Nets are halfway through Training Camp, and Mirza Teletovic (33) and Toko Shengelia (20) are making the transition to America.
Ben Couch/Brooklyn Nets

Nets forwards Mirza Teletovic and Tornike "Toko" Shengelia made the move across the Atlantic this summer, and Coach Avery Johnson jokes that it's not at all like the Eddie Murphy classic "Coming to America," despite Shengelia's quick wit.

The 20-year-old rookie – one of two drafted to the Nets roster this year; three if you follow the vets' lead and include MarShon Brooks until Game One – has managed to stay out of Reggie Evans' Twitter Timeline of Rookie Infamy (@ReggieEvans30). Brooks, for whom forgetting cocoa butter led to a carful of popcorn, and Tyshawn Taylor, who learned "no USA Today" equals "clothes in the pool," have already been put on blast.

"I think I look so old that they forget sometimes I'm a rookie," Shengelia said.

The Georgian forward was an unexpected addition to the 2012-13 roster. He pushed to play in Summer League, and so impressed the Nets' staff, they weighed the consequences of letting him sign a new contract in Europe and decided to develop Shengelia stateside.

Johnson praised Shengelia for his high energy and basketball IQ, impressed that a rookie knows all the plays and keeps ending up in the right places.The coach views Shengelia as an NBA small forward, comparing the way he runs the floor to former Jazz wing Shandon Anderson.

"Defensively, he's tough," Johnson said. "He doesn't quit on plays. We're going to give him every opportunity to see what he can do. He's playing well."

Teletovic had struggled with his shot the first few days of Training Camp, but Johnson believed Thursday's practice could mark a breakthrough for the 6-foot-9 forward, who has begun to figure out how to get open and where to attack an NBA defense.

After starring for Bosnia-Herzegovina in EuroBasket 2013 Qualifying, Teletovic was forced to quickly adjust to new defensive spacing and rotations, along with a more-transition-oriented game played against higher-level competition. But Teletovic believes he'll get there, and is assured enough to ask for help along the way.

"Guys in the locker room are great," Teletovic said. "They try to help you out – everything you need, they're right there for you. Also, they try to help you on the court. If you don't know something, you can ask all the guys. They have lots of experience, they know how to explain it to you. We have unbelievable skill guys, unbelievable leaders like Deron (Williams) and Joe (Johnson). We have a good team."



Brook Lopez was proud to hear Shaquille O'Neal speak so highly of his skill in the post on NBATV, repeatedly praising O'Neal as one of the most dominant centers in league history...The Nets will simulate a game situation Friday, going through a shootaround before competing in a four-quarter scrimmage...Tyshawn Taylor again missed practice with a strained right quad. Expect a fuller update Friday...Josh Childress felt some soreness in his right Achilles' tendon and was held out at the end of practice, but said it wasn't serious.

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