Maybe shaggy Serbian guard Miloš Teodosić, the Clippers’ new 30-year-old rookie, will turn out to be a matador defender. Maybe he will be an asshole who smokes clove cigarettes in the locker room and sneers at his teammates about the vulgarity of the American cinema. Maybe he will rip egg farts with no mercy! So long as he keeps throwing passes like these, he will be fine.
My favorite of these—only a small selection of the cool-ass passes Teodosić has thrown in the preseason so far—is the lob to DeAndre Jordan. Jordan and Teodosić spot Kings big man Willie Cauley-Stein with his head turned at the same moment. Jordan hits the gas, and Teodosić leads him perfectly into the open space with a deceptively difficult pass; Jordan doesn’t even have to throw his hand up to call for the lob. These men have only been teammates for a couple months; this was their fourth preseason game together. Jordan, one of the NBA’s most athletic big men and probably its single best lob finisher, will be looking for chances to repeat this play for as long as the two of them are on a roster together. Woe unto the transition defense that does not treat him like Randy Moss.
Obviously it would be fun to be the guy who could throw these passes. But man, you know what looks even more fun? Playing on that dude’s team, defending out on the perimeter, and frickin’ bolting for the open court as soon as the other team takes a shot, knowing that he will find you for an easy highlight finish. The Clippers are gonna run so much, and dunk so much, and have such a good time.
Much has been made of the loss of Chris Paul, by consensus one of the handful of best players in the game. Pretty much nobody expects the Clippers to be quite as good without him as they were with him. But in Teodosić and Patrick Beverley, they’ve divided Paul’s skills into two players—Teodosić to supply the playmaking vision and creativity, Beverley to bring the dogged defense and competitive feistiness—neither of whom has developed a reputation as a glowering, domineering perfectionist whose teammates want to stuff him in a box and mail him to the core of the Sun (yet). They might be just fine! And anyway, now they can do stuff like this: