When Milos came back to the floor, the Olympiacos deficit had been cut to just five points and CSKA needed him to show them the way out of the slump once again. And during crunch time, Milos was catastrophic:

1 point, 0-of-4 field goals, 1-of-2 free throws, FOUR TURNOVERS and two fouls.

Milos failed.  Once again.

Let me be extreme here and compare Milos to LeBron James. The similarities are so numerous you simply can’t avoid it. They were both considered as “Wonder boys” of European and US basketball, respectively. They were stars from a very young age. They were destined to rule the continent, adored for their skills, then judged and hated by their own believers for failing to fulfill what their talent promised. They were both accused of disappearing in crunch time. They changed teams to find peace and glory. They both lost the Championship (European and NBA) from the underdog (LBJ against Dallas 2011, Milos against Olympiacos 2012) and both had to prove themselves all over again.

James proved himself last year in emphatic fashion. Will Milos Teodosic do the same?

There is a point of view–thoroughly analyzed by Rod Higgins and Uygar Karaca–saying that Milos is really struggling with the “new era” of European basketball since the summer of 2010. An era in which the three-point line was moved back 50 cm (or about 1.5 feet), the paint got wider and the shot clock would not reset to 24 as often as before. That he hasn’t evolved and improved his game, the slightest. That he is declining when he should be nearing his peak. The numbers confirm that, and Rod Higgins doesn’t leave any doubt:

The sharp drop of his three point percentage in Euroleague games (from 42.6 % during his MVP season to 29% the following year), combined with less close range attempts drastically limited his scoring efficiency. A constantly deteriorating assists-to-turnover ratio – from 2.6 in 22 Euroleague games in 2010 to 1.5 in nine qualifier games this summer. During the 2011-2012 Euroleague season his turnover percentage skyrocketed to 22.5% even though his usage rate actually dropped compared to 2010-11, when he would turn the ball over on just 12% of his possessions.

In February 2008, DraftExpress stated :

On the defensive end, he himself has a fair share of responsibility with his team’s poor performance. He’s clearly not the most gifted player around on defense, given his limited lateral quickness, but he barely puts in any effort there.

Five years later, who can really argue against it? Not even Milos himself. He is dealing with the same issues over and over again. During this past summer’s qualification round (nine games) which triggered the aforementioned Slavnic comments, Milos was atrocious for Serbia, especially during crunch time against Montenegro, Israel, and Estonia.

Combined stats from those three games:

Q1,Q2,Q3 : 13-of-28 field goals, 13 assists, seven rebounds, five turnovers

Q4 : 2-of-7 field goals, two assists, two rebounds, eight turnovers

Serbia lost all three of those games. There is no need to analyze them any further, because it’s obvious. Milos CHOKED again, and the comments made about him online on sites like BallinEurope were devastating. A sampling:

Teodosic is a super talented player, but his style of play is extremely erratic, due to his incredible ego.

Teodosic has to go…I used to love him but I think he is a more a media product than anything else…

His game not only needs better three-point shooting or physical conditioning but some maturity, balance and altruism.

If this is not a “LeBron after Dallas humiliated him during the 2011 NBA Finals” situation, then what is?

No more rhetorical questions. Time to find out what’s really going on with Milos. Why is Europe’s and the Euroleague’s best player from 2010 such a mess in 2013? Many say that Milos is the most talented playmaker of the decade and they love him for that. On the other hand, many say that Milos is the most talented playmaker with the most problematic attitude towards the game and they hate him for that. It was always like this: either you hate him or you love him. And I am most certainly in love with him since the first day I saw him ball with KK FMP (Zeleznik) and Serbia’s U18 national team back in 2005.

So it’s time I stand up for him.

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