There was some pre-draft talk about the Bulls trading Luol Deng to acquire a higher selection.
The Bulls didn’t pull off any blockbuster trades or mega-deals. Neither Dwight Howard nor Pau Gasol nor any other big names will be walking through the Berto Center doors any time soon.
The Bulls are what they are.
Management kept things simple and stayed the course — the course being to continue building around Derrick Rose while trying to minimize salary cap issues — and used the 29th pick in the draft to select Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague.
It may not be the significant move Bulls fans wanted, but it makes sense, considering Derrick Rose’s injury and C.J. Watson’s almost certain departure due to salary constraints.
The fact is, Teague comes from a winning program and is fresh off an NCAA championship, and he has significant potential. Granted, late first rounders don’t have a long history of successful transition to the pros, but as ESPNChicago’s Melissa Isaacson pointed out, Taj Gibson was taken with the 26th pick. And he’s turned out to be pretty good.
So what do we know about Marquis? Other than that he’s the little brother of Atlanta’s Jeff Teague?
According to DraftExpress, Teague is fast, athletic, and a great transition player. Which means he would be the perfect point guard for a fast breaking team. Unfortunately, the Bulls ranked 28th in Pace (89.1) last season. But who knows? Maybe coach Tom Thibodeau plans to up the tempo next season.
Assuming the Bulls remain more or less a halfcourt team, what then? DraftExpress says he’s a good pick-and-roll player…and that’s about it:
The rest of Teague’s point guard game in the half court is more problematic, as he often showed questionable decision-making and struggles to run a more traditional slow-down offense. He doesn’t show the greatest feel for breaking the defense down and setting up teammates here, and often was asked to play off the ball and let other players create, as evidenced by the eight assists per game netted by the rest of his team.
When Teague does have his ball in his hands in the half court, he’s prone to pounding the ball atop the key waiting for something to happen. He had issues with turning the ball over through forcing the action both on his drives and his passes, and will definitely need to improve in this area going forward.
Pounding the ball at the top of the key? Add in “forces long, contested shots,” and it sounds like we have John Lucas III Part II. DraftExpress continues:
As far as Teague’s own offense goes in the half court, he clearly has some strong skills here, but hasn’t been able to consistently put it all together just yet. Teague does a good job getting to the basket in isolations, where his speed and handling make him very difficult to stay in front of, and he also can take advantage of his ability to drive and finish with either hand.
At the rim, Teague shows enough wiry strength to finish through contact and some nice creativity maneuvering around the basket, but his 1.06 points per shot at the basket according to Synergy Sports Technology is pretty lackluster for a player with his tools. Teague runs into trouble dealing with weakside help in the lane, often settling for just throwing the ball up at the basket and not always showing the greatest effort to maximize his chance at a high percentage shot.
He’s even more complacent with putting up his floaters and runners, as he hit an abysmal 5-for-32 of those this season according to Synergy, something he’ll clearly need to improve on at the next level if he wants to continue utilizing that weapon.
Okay. So the Bulls have something of a project on their hands.
Bulls GM Gar Forman said: “We feel we got a real value in this pick. He’s another guy who can break defenses down, get in the paint and make plays for himself and others. He has great speed and quickness and a really, really high ceiling.”
Potential. It’s the hallmark of every late draft pick.
The Bulls picked to fill a need, but this selection also heralds the beginning of changes. The team may be hardly recognizable on opening night. Rose is out until at least January. Deng probably won’t start the season. Watson, Ronnie Brewer and/or Kyle Korver will likely be salary cap casualties.
But with the nucleus intact — Rose, Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer — the Bulls will continue to be competitive. One of the top teams in the East. But unlikely to dethrone the Heat any time soon.