Bulls select Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague with 29th pick
By NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org June 28, 2012 10:33PM
Kentucky guard Marquis Teague (25) drives to the basket against Kansas guard Elijah Johnson (15) during the first half of an NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament championship game Monday, April 2, 2012, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Chris Steppig/NCAA Photos, Pool)
THE Marquis teague FILE
Age: 19. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 189.
College: Kentucky. High School: Pike, Indianapolis.
The skinny: Helped Kentucky to a national championship during his freshman season while leading the Wildcats in assists by averaging 4.8 per game, the second most by a freshman in UK history. Also averaged 10 points while shooting 41.2 percent from the field and 32.5 from beyond the three-point line. Scored a career-high 24 points with seven assists in NCAA tournament win over Iowa State.
Strengths: Good size, speed and athleticism. Solid court vision, especially effective on the break, and can finish inside.
Weaknesses: Has been prone to turnovers at times and needs to improve his shot-making.
Updated: July 30, 2012 6:40AM
The Bulls knew they weren’t going to have Derrick Rose at the beginning of next season, so they grabbed the point guard who resembled him most when they chose Kentucky’s Marquis Teague with the 29th overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
The team knew it needed backcourt help, and general manager Gar Forman said he would only draft for need if all things were equal. With Memphis two-guard Will Barton still on the board, the Bulls took a freshman who fits the team’s mold of drafting players with winning pedigrees from established programs.
The Bulls typically have preferred players with longer college careers but couldn’t resist a talented 19-year-old who could develop into a long-time backup for Rose. Remember, Kentucky coach John Calipari’s one-and-done point guards include John Wall, Brandon Knight and Rose when they were both at Memphis.
‘‘He gives us another guy who can break a defense down and get into the paint and make plays for himself and for others,’’ Forman said.
Teague’s father, Shawn, played for Rick Pitino at Boston University, setting off a Teague-of-war between Louisville and Kentucky for a player considered the top point guard in the country coming out of high school. Kentucky’s style of play better fit his style, making him public enemy No. 1 in Louisville.
After all of that, transitioning to the NBA should be a relief, especially since his brother, Jeff, plays point guard for the Atlanta Hawks.
‘‘It’s a big step going from college to the pros,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The fact that he played in a lot of big games helps, being around the pro game helps, but there’s a big learning curve.”
While it may not match Rose’s, Teague’s first-step explosiveness and overall speed should allow the Bulls to eventually play a similar style when Rose is not on the floor. The 6-2, 189-pounder excels in the open floor and was a big reason why Kentucky’s fast break was so effective during its national championship run last season.
Teague will need to improve his half-court game while learning to knock down pull-up jumpers as he matures. He also was prone to turnovers at times.
The Indianapolis native solidified his draft stock with solid play in the NCAA tournament, including 14 points and three assists in the title game against Kansas.
The Bulls’ need for a guard is obvious. Rose will be recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee for the first couple of months of the season at least. The Bulls have options on backup point guard C.J. Watson and three-point specialist Kyle Korver but may opt for cheaper alternatives given the more punitive nature of the new luxury-tax rules.
Forman said they have been scouting Teague since he was in high school and that he was one of the “top two or three” athletes in the draft.
The Bulls are expected to sign a veteran point guard at some point during free agency, however.
“It’s going to take a number of guys to make up for the load we’ll be missing with Derrick out,” Forman said. “Point guard is one of the positions of need we’ll need to address going into free agency.’’