Chicago Bulls: Full Grade for the Bulls' 2012 NBA Draft
Compared to teams like the Portland Trail Blazers or Houston Rockets, the Chicago Bulls seem to have had a very quiet draft. Possessing only one pick, the 29th overall, the Bulls were not in a position to overhaul their roster or bring in a game-changing talent.
Still, the team was able to make an impact by selecting Marquis Teague, the freshman point guard who helped Kentucky to a national championship. Teague was one of the most talented players available when Chicago was selecting, but there is plenty about his game that must continue to improve.
In a draft light on elite point guard prospects, the Bulls took a chance on an athletically gifted prospect who should be able to provide some decent minutes off the bench for Tom Thibodeau.
Here I've broken down the good and bad of the pick, as well as assigned a final grade. Let's take a look...
In his one season in Lexington, Teague averaged a solid 10 points and 4.8 assists while being the floor general for the eventual national champions. He is great at pushing the ball in transition and is one of the more athletic guards in this year's draft class.
Defensively, he can hound the ball well and is willing to play scrappy and physical when necessary. He can be excellent at pressing opposing point guards full court and forcing them to make mistakes.
He is not an elite shooter, and although his 32.5 percent clip from three-point range is decent, it must improve as he enters the NBA. He is primarily a slasher, and teams will be able to pack the paint against him unless he can force them to play him close to prevent a shot.
Still, Teague is brimming with potential, and as long as he can improve his execution in the half court and his ability to knock down shots, he could be a solid NBA point guard. There's no denying his championship pedigree or his ability to consistently get to the rim.
The Chicago Bulls were obviously in need of a point guard. With it likely that Derrick Rose misses major time recovering from his ACL tear, the team needed to add a young player in the backcourt who can come in and play off the bench.
There are a few quality free-agent point guards like Andre Miller, Kirk Hinrich or even Steve Nash that Chicago could look to sign for a year, but in Teague they get a player with a high ceiling who has the potential to be a starting guard if he continues to develop his game.
Defensively, Teague's relentlessness and tenacity will allow him to fit in well with the Bulls' defensive system. As long as he stays disciplined he will give them a talented on-ball defender and someone who should be able to mesh immediately with the team's defense-oriented culture.
Much like Rose, a fellow John Calipari coached point guard, Teague excels at getting into the lane. Though he lacks Rose's elite ability to control his body on finishes, he can still score consistently at the basket or make drive-and-kick passes to the perimeter. This ability to collapse a defense and find the open man should serve well with the Bulls, who have good shooters on their roster in Kyle Korver, Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton.
Projected to go as high as 19th to Orlando in some mock drafts, Teague was one of several players to slide to the end of the first round. The Bulls were lucky enough to grab not just a player at a position of need, but one of the best players available.
As a 19-year-old entering the league, maturity and decision making will obviously be an issue going forward. Chicago has a veteran-filled team that will not stand for a young hotshot coming in and overestimating his abilities.
Teague's decision making in college was not excellent, and he needs to work on shot selection and choosing when to put up a shot or dish the ball. There were times at Kentucky when he would try to make flashy plays instead of the right plays, leading to turnovers.
I touched on his shaky jump shooting earlier, but it is certainly an area that he must improve. It is not as easy to simply blow by NBA defenders like he did in college, and Teague must either be able to consistently knock down perimeter shots to keep a defense from sagging off, or develop a bevy of Rajon Rondo-like moves for getting into the lane.
With the Bulls, which is more of a grind-it-out team than a run-and-gun one, Teague must show better half-court vision than he did as a Wildcat last season. He is a gifted passer, but he needs to be able to see the floor and read defenses in order to get his team the highest percentage shot possible.
Marquis Teague is one of several players in this draft who could have benefited from another year in school to hone their game, but his decision to come out this early leaves him with several holes that must be addressed.
Coming to a team that needs point guard production, there is a legitimate fear that he may be asked to do too much in his rookie season.
Ultimately, I think this was a good selection by Chicago. One has to wonder if it's the pick they would have made with a healthy Rose, but the team drafted for need and was still able to grab a very talented player.
If Teague lives up to his potential, he could become the team's primary backup point guard and even spend some time alongside Rose on the court once he gets healthy. They should obviously sign a veteran who can play big minutes, but as long as they don't expect Teague to do much as he develops a feel for the NBA game, he will be a nice rotation player next season.
The Bulls still need to acquire a young shooting guard they can pair with Rose, but with players like Evan Fournier and John Jenkins already off the board, they understandably didn't want to reach too far for a player at the 2. They could have gone with Teague's former teammate Doron Lamb, but he does not have the upside that Teague does.
Teague has all the physical tools to be a good professional point guard and should benefit from playing on an experienced team that has championship aspirations. Marquis Teague to Chicago might not be the best pick of the draft, but it was certainly a solid and very sensible one.
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