In his debut piece for BallinEurope, Nicolò Origgi examines the relationship on the court between Milos Teodosic and Nando de Colo
As the current Euroleague season approaches its annual April Madness, the fact that Milos Teodosic and Nando de Colo are once again the most likely MVP candidates – although this time the unreal Sergio Llull is in the mix, too – surely comes as no surprise. After all, both CSKA’s guards have been openly praised even by David Blatt in the aftermath of the recent defeat of his Darussafaka team in Moscow, a prestigious testament to the pair’s reputation all over Europe nowadays.
Going back a couple years, though, what can now be considered a status quo would have probably looked quite unlikely to many analysts and simple fans. As a matter of fact, the flashy Serb had earned the infamous label of beautiful loser over the years spent in Greece and Russia collecting domestic accollades yet failing to climb the last step on the biggest international stage, while the fundamentally sound Frenchman was back from an unsuccessful attempt to carve a niche in the NBA after some up-and-down years in Valencia. Teodosic’s critics always pointed at his alleged lack of effort and ball-dominant play, capable of producing tons of highlight-calibre plays as well as dramatic clutch moments but also epic meltdowns for his team. De Colo’s shortcomings concerned instead his individual off-the-dribble game due to a lack of elite physical tools and lightning-quick ball handling, getting therefore more exposed among the big boys across the pond.
Since the two then borderline stars were brought together by CSKA in summer 2014, however, their abovementioned flaws have not suddenly disappeared. They have rather been put into perspective thanks to monster stat lines and a precious piece of silverware that was still missing. The now accomplished duo has indeed managed to adapt and, most importantly, take advantage of each other’s presence to both’s advantage. As a result, their already well known strengths have been enhanced in the process. De Colo’s outstanding off-the-ball game and sharpshooting skills were exactly the perfect complementary piece to Teodosic’s natural passing wizardry. At the same time, as the Serbian guard is the complete package and doesn’t mind acting as a deadly threat coming off screens nor spotting up for open shots generated by the great orchestra that is CSKA’s offence, the graduate of Cholet’s youth academy greatly benefits from sharing the court with Milos also in a playmaking role – just check out how Teodosic’s defender is forced to play close coverage even on the weakside because of his presence alone, thus enabling a number of comfortable options on the two-man game led by the former Spurs backup. Without even looking for detailed stats to back up such assumption, as it is now common, you can almost feel at sight that point guard duties better suit De Colo alongside Teodosic than in the absence of the number four drawing attention away from him and the rest of CSKA’s renowned supporting cast.
Back to the present from the not so remote past where both Milos Teodosic and Nando De Colo seemed doomed to live their own perennial aurea mediocritas, thought to always be a spanner short of a toolbox – or, as the famous football coach Giovanni Trapattoni would say in an attempt to paraphrase the homologous Italian saying, a cent short of a pound – also for the rest of their careers, it is safe to assume that their on-court partnership has proven to be the best thing that could happen to raise each one’s level to unprecedented heights. It was just what they needed, a win-win situation both for themselves and their lucky – and maybe a little bit visionary – employers.