Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau should use rookie Marquis Teague more.
Sort of like former NBA coach Larry Brown, Thibodeau isn’t exactly passionate about playing first-year players often. That’s one of the reasons Jimmy Butler rarely saw the court last season, logging just 8.5 minutes per game.
This season, though, Butler’s playing time has increased dramatically, shooting up to 23.5 minutes per game. More importantly, he has emerged as one of the Bulls’ most valuable role players.
Teague’s role may end up expanding next season as well, but let’s focus on the present.
The Indianapolis native is currently averaging 8.9 minutes and has appeared in only 44 of the Bulls’ 71 games. He is also third on the depth chart at point guard behind Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson. And once superstar Derrick Rose returns to the court (torn ACL), Teague will slip to the fourth spot at the position.
Thibodeau should try out Teague in the starting lineup a few times as the Bulls await Rose’s comeback. Sure, he’s only averaging 2.3 points and 1.4 assists thus far, but he’s averaging a respectable 9.1 points and 5.7 assists per 36 minutes.
Teague has also shown flashes of brilliance this season. His performance versus the Spurs in early March is a great example.
In 24 minutes, the Kentucky product came up with a career-high 11 points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal. Plus he impressively knocked down three of his four attempts from downtown.
Although the Bulls were crushed in that game 102-83, Teague proved that he belongs in the NBA.
Another solid outing for Teague came in February against the Denver Nuggets. He contributed 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal in 22 minutes of action.
Teague made it look easy getting to the basket and showcased his ability to find his teammates.
He also helped Chicago pick up an 83-82 victory in December versus the Brooklyn Nets, who the Bulls could meet during the first round of the playoffs. Playing 19 minutes and shooting 4-of-6 from the field, Teague chipped in with eight points, two assists and two rebounds.
He demonstrated his ability to finish at the rim and knock down the occasional mid-range jumper, and played tight defense on Deron Williams—one of the league's top point guards—during the final seconds of the game.
Here are the highlights from the game.
Thibodeau acknowledged Teague’s skills via the Chicago Tribune.
"His speed and quickness basically allow him to get to any point he wants to."
Speaking of speed and quickness, check out this reverse layup versus the Philadelphia 76ers.
Teague played one year at Kentucky, helping the star-studded Wildcats win a national championship last April. He was then selected by the Bulls with the 29th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
I said, ‘Go back to school one more year,’ but he felt like he was ready, and I can’t tell him what to do.” And I was going to be with him whatever decision he made. But I thought he should have went back and had another year to hone his skills. He wanted to come out. He made a grown-man choice.
Jeff is probably right. Maybe Marquis should’ve stuck around in Lexington for at least another season. He could’ve improved his game, been a pick in this year’s upcoming draft and become an instant starter for an NBA club, but now he’s stuck on the Bulls’ bench for the time being.
If Teague’s minutes were to increase this season, perhaps he could prove to be a solid backup floor general.
But as every Bulls fan knows, Coach Thibs isn’t going to play a rookie, well at least not very much. So we’ll have to wait until next season to see if Teague can be a high-impact player.