With the Bulls first Summer League game coming up on Tuesday against the Boston Celtics, its time to take a look at Chicago's biggest prospect on the Las Vegas roster: Marquis Teague.
Selecting at the 29th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls immediately prepared for Derrick Rose's absence by nabbing Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague. The freshman point guard fits the mold of Bulls draft choices in the past.
Chicago's front office loves winners. Carlos Boozer, Richard Hamilton and Joakim Noah all won national championships while in college (at Duke, Connecticut and Florida, respectively. Noah actually won back-to-back titles.) Luol Deng and Derrick Rose both reached the Final Four as freshman (for Duke and Memphis, respectively) and Rose lost in overtime in the National Championship game against Kansas. Heck, even Brian Scalabrine lost in the Elite Eight to Boozer's national championship Duke squad. The Bulls front office intentionally builds its team around winners. Teague certainly adds to that winning culture.
Teague started 40 games for the 2012 National Champion Kentucky Wildcats. He didn't just sit back and watch No. 1 pick Anthony Davis and No. 2 pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist dominate either; he took more shots than both of them (albeit less effectively). Being the starting point guard of a 38-2 team can't be understated. Although Teague's college performance was highly disappointing, he still learned more in one year than most players do in four. The Bulls got a steal at 29.
Anywhere you look, Teague wasn't supposed to drop this far. ESPN's Chad Ford had Teague being drafted 19th overall by the Orlando Magic. Draft Express had Teague being picked at 25 by the Memphis Grizzlies. NBAdraft.net projected Teague being selected 18th overall by the Houston Rockets. The Bulls were fortunate to even have the opportunity to draft Teague (in unrelated news, when the selection was announced I was still recovering from my tantrum after Perry Jones III was selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the pick right before the Bulls. Of course he got taken before the Bulls, of course.) Although Chicago got a steal in Teague, he's a work in progress.
To say Teague underperformed while at Kentucky is an understatement. Teague entered Kentucky as the first ranked point guard in the nation and eighth best player overall according to ESPN. He averaged 22.7 points, 5.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game as a senior at Pike High School in Indianapolis (if you want to see Teague at his best, watch this mixtape). At Kentucky, those numbers dropped to 10.0 points, 4.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 41.2 percent. That's while playing a whopping 32.6 minutes per game. Teague also shot the ball horribly, connecting on only 28.4 percent of his spot up attempts. He also shot only 51 percent at the rim (the NBA league average for point guards this season was 58.8 percent at the rim according to hoopdata.com). You would expect a point guard playing with five other NBA draft choices to put up bigger numbers than that. Perhaps Teague's biggest problem was translating his athleticism to the court. Teague, despite his poor numbers, is an exceptional athlete.
NBA Combine Athletic Measurements
|Player||Height||Wingspan||No Step Vert||Max Vert||Lane Agility||3/4 Court Sprint||Bench Press|
|Marquis Teague||6' 2''||6' 7.25''||32.5||40.5||10.65||3.19||8|
|Derrick Rose||6' 2.5''||6' 8''||34.5||40||11.69||3.05||10|
|John Wall||6' 4''||6' 9.25''||30||39||10.84||3.14||N/A|
|Russell Westbrook||6' 3.5''||6' 7.75''||30||36.5||10.98||3.08||12|
|Jeff Teague||6' 1.5''||6' 7.5''||30.5||36.5||11.05||3.18||13|
**Statistics provided by draftexpress.com**
I matched up the most athletic point guards in the league with Teague, and surprisingly, Teague's athletic measurements compare favorably to his counterparts. Teague's height is within two inches of all of them while his wingspan is within an inch of everyone other than Wall (Teague's wingspan was third among point guards during this year's combine). His no step vertical is only worse than Rose at 32.5 inches. Teague's max vertical, on the other hand, leads the entire group at 40.5 inches (second best among all players at the combine). His lane agility of 10.65 also leads the group (sixth best at the combine). Although his 3/4 court sprint is last in the group, Teague was fourth among all players at the combine this year. Brother Jeff Teague and Russell Westbrook dominated the bench press, but that is largely because both players left college as sophomores, so their bodies were more developed. Let's see how Teague's athletic numbers translated to the court by comparing his last season numbers to Rose, Westbrook, Wall and his brother Jeff in their last seasons in college.
In-game Athletic Statistics per 40 minutes (players most recent college season)
**Statistics provided by draftexpress.com**
The most statistics that exemplify athleticism are rebounds, steals, blocks and free throw attempt per field goal attempt. As you can tell by this chart, Teague was nowhere near this elite group of point guards. Teague was by far the worst in the group in rebounds and steals per 40 minutes. He was also second to last in blocks per 40 minutes. Despite rarely getting steals and blocks, Teague had the highest foul rate of the group, tied with Westbrook. Teague was also last in FTA/FGA. Herein lies the problem; his athletic measurements are off the charts, but he's struggled to find a way to translate his athleticism into on-the-court production. Perhaps head coach Tom Thibodeau could shape Teague into the player he was anticipated to become upon entering Kentucky.
Teague is quite a talent even when considering his shortcomings. Athletes like him don't come around very often. Even if Teague never improves offensively (which is doubtful), he has tremendous defensive potential. Teague dominated in iso situations, holding opponents to 26.1 percent shooting. He held opponents to the same percentage in pick and roll situations as well. Teague competes on the defensive end despite his poor steal and block rates.
John Hollinger's draft rater also projected a very bright NBA career for Teague. The draft rater is a tool that Hollinger created that analyzes college stats and predicts NBA performance. The tool has accurately predicted future success for the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Jon Leuer and Daniel Green. The rater also accurately predicted the poor performances of Jimmer Fredette and Josh Selby. His draft rater this year predicted Teague to have the fourth best player efficiency rating among perimeter players with a PER of 13.18. That PER is ahead of Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, Tony Wroten Jr. and Jeremy Lamb. Obviously this draft rater isn't perfect by any means, but the formula has had success in the past and is worth noting.
Here's an even more important point; college stats are somewhat misleading.
Take Westbrook for example. Westbrook was never a star in college despite playing two seasons at UCLA. His best season at UCLA he only averaged 12.7 points and 4.3 assists per game. His most recent season with the Oklahoma City Thunder he averaged 23.6 points and 5.5 assists per game. I'm not saying Teague is a future Westbrook, but at the very least he shouldn't be cast off because of his poor college numbers.
Teague's ceiling is a smaller version of Wall and a more athletic and bigger version of Kyle Lowry (Teague has actually compared himself to Lowry in interviews). His floor is someone like Jeremy Pargo. Pargo, like Teague, has an older brother in the NBA (Jannero Pargo) and has struggled to a make an NBA rotation. Pargo is super-athletic, like Teague, but isn't a good enough shooter or distributor to be an NBA starter. Teague's middle-ground is probably his brother Jeff. The older Teague is coming off his best season as an Atlanta Hawk, averaging 12.6 points and 4.9 assists per game while shooting 47.7 percent from the field. A season like that isn't out of the question for the younger Teague in the future. Even though Teague may play solid minutes this upcoming season while Rose is recovering, when Rose returns his minutes might be hard to find. Playing Teague alongside Rose isn't ideal.
Marquis Teague isn't a home run by any means, but at 29, you rarely find one. No matter what player Teague becomes, one thing is certain; the Bulls could've done a lot worse with the 29th pick.