Marquis Teague saw the bench a whole lot more than he saw the floor in his rookie season for the Chicago Bulls, but that does not mean he will be a benchwarmer for much longer. After an impressive Summer League where he averaged 18.3 points and 4.8 assists, Teague is looking to become a part of the regular rotation this season on the Bulls. Clearly, Derrick Rose stands in the way of Teague being a starter for the foreseeable future. Head Coach Tom Thibodeau is widely known for his usage of a deep bench which means more opportunities for Teague while he battles Kirk Hinrich for the backup point guard spot.
In just his second year in the league, why would this be the year Teague makes a significant contribution to a team likely to battle the Heat for top spot in the East? Precedent. Bull’s SG/SF Jimmy Butler barely touched the floor in his rookie season where the Bulls were ousted by the Sixers in the playoffs after Rose went down with injury. However, Butler became a gym rat at the Bulls training center over the summer and worked with the coaching staff extensively to improve his defense and shooting. He forced Thibodeau into playing him after strong performances when starter Luol Deng was out with injury. By season’s end, Butler was playing high volume minutes and is now the starting shooting guard in Chicago.
According to this inteview with Teague by Ricky O’Donnell, Teague is following in the footsteps of Butler by putting in extra work at the Berto Center in Chicago this summer. Teague talks about his struggles as a rookie, adjustments of the NBA, charity work, and the advice Butler has given him in the story. He also emphasized how much he has been working in the gym. “I‘ve been in Chicago pretty much the whole time, back and forth. I stay in Chicago until Thursday, and then I go back to Indianapolis and play pick-up games and things. But you know I’m in touch with Thibs and Gar and those guys pretty much every week, because I’m always here. I’m always at the gym, they’re always at the gym.”
Obviously, Marquis Teague is in tough spot with two veteran point guards (Rose and Hinrich) taking playing time on a team coached by Tom Thibodeau who takes every game as serious as the NBA Finals. However, Teague will have to follow the path of teammate Jimmy Butler to score opportunities to stake his claim as a regular in the rotation. Butler took advantage of other player’s injuries, namely Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton. Kirk Hinrich battled injuries for the majority of last season, likely indicating the case may be the same this season for the wily veteran. Derrick Rose is coming back from his well documented ACL tear. The Bulls coaching staff will likely take any chance available to limit Rose’s minutes to ease him back into his original role.
Both of these situations would give Teague more than enough time to show the improvement he has made since last season. Teague’s decision making and shooting were suspect in his first year in the league, both common flaws for young point guards. His summer workouts regimen and performance in the Summer League indicate those struggles may not be as prevalent in Teague’s second year in the league.
With a strong effort this summer, Teague will hopefully get the chance to be the successful NBA player every Kentucky fan knows he can be. If Teague continues the work ethic he displayed this offseason, he may have an Eric Bledsoe NBA career path ahead of him (Play behind All Star PG, traded to be starter elsewhere).