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Heading into the 2012 NBA Draft, I admitted to having no idea what the Chicago Bulls were going to do. The Luol Deng rumors that had been whipping around earlier in the week had died down, which was somewhat disappointing, yet expected. As much as I love Deng, I was kind of hoping for a big splash move that could inject some new excitement into the Bulls. GM Gar Forman can talk all he wants about how he likes the core of the team, but in my honest opinion, the championship window has closed on this group. Those blasted ACL injuries!
But the Bulls stayed the course, electing not to take a chance on a young shooting guard, and instead choosing to wait in the wings at 29. They had been rumored earlier in the day to like Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor, but as the 29th pick approached, it was apparent that there would be plenty of better options available. One of those potential options was Perry Jones III, the Baylor stud who was unexpectedly falling because of medical red flags. He would have been quite the coup for the Bulls, but unfortunately, the already über-athletic Oklahoma City Thunder scooped him up at 28. Some of the lineups that the Thunder will be able to put out next year will be so unfair.
Anyway, the Bulls had a ton of options at 29, and these were the names I laid out on Twitter before their selection: Will Barton (who had worked out twice for them), Jeffery Taylor, the aforementioned Tyshawn Taylor, Doron Lamb, Quincy Miller, Draymond Green, Darius Miller. The Bulls really could not go wrong (although selecting Tyshawn would have ticked me off).
However, I completely looked over one name, and it just so happened to be the guy the Bulls would end up selecting. And that of course, was Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague.
My initial reaction to the pick was “meh,” probably because I was so locked in on taking a wing player and had completely forgotten Teague was on the board. But after doing a little research, I decided that I liked the pick. I can’t say I watched much Kentucky basketball last year (because Illinois basketball ruined college hoops for me), but based on all the reports, this was a great value pick. Teague was not expected to fall to the very end of the first round, and as Forman said afterward, the Bulls were really excited that he did.
Teague is an athletic freak with a 40″ vertical (Stacey King should love that) who will give the Bulls another ball handler that can actually break people down off the dribble. As a freshman at Kentucky, he manned the point for all 40 games, playing 32.6 minutes per game for John Calipari’s national championship squad. His averages of 10.8 points and 4.8 assists do not jump out at you, but that Kentucky team had so much talent that it’s hard to expect a freshman point guard to put up big numbers. By comparison, Derrick Rose averaged 14.9 points and 4.7 assists in his one year at Memphis.
Defensively, Teague has the potential to be quite the pest. He has quick feet, active hands and solid strength for his size, so he should have no problem defending all types of point guards. He’ll obviously have to bring it on that end if he wants to play for Tom Thibodeau, and I really do not think that will be a problem.
Teague is obviously not without his faults. His jumper is a major work in progress, as evidenced by his 41.2 percent mark from the field and 32.5 percent mark from three. Turnovers were also a problem, but that’s almost to be expected out of a 18/19-year-old point guard. He’ll have plenty of time to improve those facets of his game, although there’s a decent chance he gets thrown into the NBA fire right away.
Which brings me to this question: Just what kind of playing time should we expect to see for Teague next season?
We know Thibobeau is not crazy about playing rookies, but it may be a necessity in this situation. With Rose out indefinitely and C.J. Watson likely to be gone, Teague should get ample opportunity to prove himself early on in the 2012-13 season. I’m assuming another veteran point guard will be brought in on the cheap (duh), so the rookie may not start right away. But no matter what, he should get some real nice minutes. And honestly, I’d rather give him the majority of the minutes as opposed to some veteran who won’t be helping the team down the road. Then when Rose comes back, Teague can settle into a backup role that Thibs can be more comfortable with. And who knows, perhaps Rose and Teague can play together depending on the matchup?
Now, while I like the pick, I understand the issue some people have with drafting a point guard. Because as I just mentioned, Teague will likely be limited to a backup role when Rose returns from injury. Sure those two may be able to play together at times, but I’m guessing it won’t happen that often, at least not to start. So with all those wings on the board at 29, one could argue that the Bulls should have gone in that direction in order to fill a hole and draft a potential starter (although that can be hard to do at 29). I certainly thought that was the way the Bulls were going to go, but I also stressed in the days leading up to the draft that they should select whomever they thought was the “best player available.” That appears to be what they did with Teague, so I really can’t be too upset about it.
What I am upset about (and I know these feelings are shared by several other Bulls fans/writers/bloggers), is the fact that the Bulls did not find a way to acquire another pick or two. With the unguaranteed contracts of Watson, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer at their disposal, it should have been pretty easy to snag an extra pick. All we keep hearing is that those guys will be cut in order to avoid the luxury tax, so why not get something of value in return. And even if the Bulls did not want to do that (could still deal them in the future), they probably could have just thrown some cash at a team drafting in the second round and got a pick back. Barton, Lamb and Darius Miller all fell into the 40s, and I see no reason why the Bulls could not have been able to land one of those guys. I know I may be making too big a deal out of not getting a second rounder, but those are players who could be helpful in the future. While they may not be difference makers, they could have helped provide some solid depth at a cheap price.
Ultimately, it certainly was not the worst draft in the world for the Bulls. Teague should turn into a pretty nice player and is a solid asset to have in the future. He’s not only excellent insurance for Rose, but he could be used as a trade chip if the Bulls wanted to go in that direction. Either way, I’m looking forward to see what this kid can do.