Teague leads Bulls to win in summer league opener
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Will Marquis Teague be this season’s Jimmy Butler?
“Last year (at summer league) the main thing I wasn’t in shape,” conceded Teague as the Bulls Saturday night opened their summer league play with an 81-67 win over the Memphis Grizzlies behind the playmaking of Teague and scoring of Andrew Goudelock. “I had the talent to play, but I just wasn’t in shape. I was getting tired. This summer I’m in great shape.”
And Teague showed it with a terrific, confident game running the team.
Teague had 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds with just one turnover in just under 33 minutes (40 minute games) while free agent Goudelock, who played parts of the last two seasons with the Lakers, had 26 points with three of five threes in 27 minutes.
Goudelock, a 6-3 shooting guard, played point guard as well part of third quarter. But Teague basically ran a fluid offense most of the game and came up with the highlight play of the game in the second quarter, dribbling through the defense full court, going behind his back and deep into the paint to draw the defense and passing to Thomas for a layup.
“It’s a huge summer for me as far as getting better, helping myself for next year,” said Teague. “Letting them see me working in the gym and in the summer league and how I perform to give myself an opportunity to play next season. Being a point guard, floor general and being able to defend. Showing my whole game.”
Last summer as rookie Teague was overwhelmed in summer league in his debut, Butler began the breakout that led to his strong season after he got a regular opportunity when Luol Deng was hurt in January. But it was last summer in Las Vegas when Butler, after playing little as a rookie like Teague and mostly saying little, began to show an aggressive side with a strong showing with the summer league team.
It was similar for Teague after limited playing time last season and an impressive start to the summer.
First round pick Tony Snell hit his first shot, a three. He ended with seven points on three of nine shooting and one of three three pointers. Though he took that first spot up shot, he put the ball on the floor a bit much after that and overdribbled into some questionable shots. He seemed uncertain, which is understandable, in his first pro action. Second round pick Erik Murphy had six points in just under 19 minutes, but 10 fouls and zero rebounds starting along with Teague, Goudelock, Snell and Malcolm Thomas. Deon Thompson was the only other player to get more than seven minutes as the Bulls under assistant Adrian Griffin stayed primarily with the starting group.
The Bulls are hoping to add another big man to the roster, though someone like Goudelock could find a spot along with Thomas, who had 10 rebounds and two blocks and changed numerous shots.
But it was an impressive opening for Teague, who is the most likely among the summer league players to have a regular role with this season’s Bulls team. And Teague showed an impressive, open court floor game, attacking the basket more aggressively than anytime last season and beating opponents regularly off the dribble.
He showed flashes of being able to be a solid fourth guard and even third if Butler swings down to small forward at times.
Of course, it’s summer league and the opposition is not at a regular NBA level. But Teague showed impressive quickness out of the backcourt, making steals and running out in transition and finding teammates.
Most of Teague’s scoring Saturday was in transition, and he admits he is working hardest on his outside shot, which he didn’t show much Saturday.
“I want to be aggressive, win some games, make things happen for me and my teammates, be real aggressive on defense, go out there and win, play hard,” said Teague. “I’ve got to knock down some outside shots, make the right plays off the pick and roll and guard the pick and roll real well. Developing a mid range (shot), getting my floater a lot better, my three point shot (are priorities).
“I can get to the paint,” said Teague. “It’s the other things, knocking down outside shots. Getting to the rim is not the problem for me. I’m trying to develop the rest of my game so I can be more successful. Whatever they need me to do, guard the ball full court, whatever Thibs asks me to do, run the offense, organize, whatever.”
Teague also has to work on finishing stronger. He was able to beat defenders seemingly with ease Saturday. But he didn’t finish layups strong enough several times and had a pair blocked.
Teague is just 20, but he got an advanced course last season, mostly watching, but with all the injuries getting almost 15 minutes in the Game 7 win over Brooklyn with four points, three assists, a block and mo turnovers.
“That was exciting,” said Teague. “I got a chance to play in that game and did OK. That was fun.”
But it was a year mostly of patience and uncertainty as the 6-2 guard played in 48 games, a total of 392 minutes, averaging 2.1 points and 1.3 assists. The most he had in a game was 11 points and in another four assists. When he did play it seemed he spent as much time watching the sideline as the basket to try to avoid mistakes. But like with Butler in Las Vegas last year who had a big 25 point first game and was the team leader, Teague took an aggressive, leadership role Saturday after last year’s four of 17 debut which went even farther downhill from there.
“It was tough at first (to watch last season),” said Teague. “But pretty much all rookies go through it. It’s part of the game. When you come to this level playing, with guys that are so talented and who have been here, it’s a waiting process, basically. I learned anything can happen in this league, people getting injured, getting sick, getting ejected. You can get thrown in any moment of the game. So it taught me to stay ready at all time.
“At times you come out there, I’m playing with a bunch of veteran players,” noted Teague of last season. “I don’t want to shoot too many shots, make the wrong plays. So you’re kind of out there thinking instead of just playing. Once the season went on, I got more comfortable and more aggressive. They didn’t care when I shot the ball. As long as I was taking good shots. So I just started finding my game more and more. Thibs wants me to be aggressive starting now to get myself prepared for the season.”
After a 16-14 Bulls first quarter lead, the Bulls fell behind by four. But then behind Teague’s pressure offense and Goudelock’s shooting, both deep and off the dribble, the Bulls took control with a 17-1 second quarter run and 38-29 halftime lead. The Bulls led 63-48 after three quarters, and extended it to 19 to open the fourth on a Teague pass to Thompson for a dunk and a pair of Teague free throws.
“He’s so quick and handles so well,” Goudelock said of Teague. ”He’s come a long way.”
Snell did some full court dribbling out of the backcourt as he worked to try to find his place at times. But Teague was impressive with the ball, often dribbling through the defense and coming out the opposite side like Steve Nash or Kirk Hinrich and making plays for his teammates. Teague easily would have been in double figures in assists if his teammates had not missed some easy inside shots.
Teague also showed more composure, not playing so fast like last season. He showed a nice hesitation dribble and patience in working away from double teams along with some nice look away passes for baskets.
“I’m learning to talk more on the floor, be more vocal,” said Teague. “Making sure I’m taking my time. I like to play fast, sometimes too fast. So I’m trying to control it, know when to go and know when to slow it down.
“I’m loving this team,” said Teague of the 2013-14 Bulls. “We’re a great group of guys, unselfish players who play hard. I think we’ve got one of the best teams in this league.”
Especially if Teague can advance and contribute like Butler did last season.