Bulls guard Marquis Teague is feeling a learning sensation
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com July 14, 2013 7:53PM
At Las Vegas
• Saturday: Bulls 81,
• Monday: vs. Nuggets, 9:30 p.m.
• Tuesday: vs. Trail
Blazers, 7 p.m. (NBA TV).
After three games, the Bulls will be seeded in a tournament-style circuit to determine the champion. Each team is guaranteed to play at least five games. The championship game is next Monday.
Updated: July 14, 2013 8:46PM
LAS VEGAS — He won a national championship at Kentucky, and Jeff, his older brother, had three years of NBA experience.
Make no mistake about it, Bulls point guard Marquis Teague entered the 2012-13 season ready for the highest level.
Until reality hit.
And it didn’t take long.
By the end of the preseason, Teague, the 29th pick in 2012, was lost, confused and starting all over.
Welcome to the NBA, rook.
“I wasn’t prepared to sit the whole season,’’ Teague said after a summer-league win Saturday. “I didn’t really expect that. I thought I was going to be able to just go in there and fight for a spot.’’
Fight for a spot? Teague was barely showing enough fight to earn a few token minutes here and there.
Even with Derrick Rose out and Nate Robinson still an uncertain commodity, Teague rarely was called on in November.
Injuries to Kirk Hinrich in December earned Teague a look, and he actually showed signs that he could run a team, but Tom Thibodeau is a demanding coach.
By the end of the regular season, Teague went through a 14-game stretch in which he played two minutes.
Teague took bad shots, missed defensive assignments and passed on open looks. He was trying to learn the NBA game on the fly and failing far too often. Looking back on it now, it was basically a redshirt year.
“It’s like anything: You’ve got to go through it yourself to know how it really is,’’ Teague said. “You can’t go with someone else’s experiences; you’ve got to do it yourself.’’
Right after the Bulls were eliminated by the Heat in the second round of the playoffs, Teague was at the Berto Center working on his game daily.
He’s back in summer school for a second straight year, using the summer league to show Thibodeau that lessons were learned. In his 2013 debut, Teague scored 12 points, handed out seven assists, grabbed five rebounds and, more important, had only one turnover.
He looked more confident and sounded more confident.
“The thing is, [Teague is] in a different place than where he was a year ago,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think when you come and you hear, and you think you know what the NBA is about, until you go through it, you really don’t. A year of experience has helped him.
“He got in early this year, he’s been working hard, and hopefully he plays a lot better, and I think he will. And I think he’s prepared himself for the summer league a lot better this year, so that’s the first step. That’s all we want him to do. Continue to improve, work as hard as he can each and every day and keep moving forward.’’
If he does that, expect Teague to be a key contributor, backing up Rose and Hinrich, especially early in the season when the Bulls will be easing Rose back into action.
If he doesn’t? Well, the Bulls aren’t in a position to sit around and wait, and Teague knows that.
“I know there is more pressure on me to perform this season,’’ Teague said. “Last year was tough, and I needed to let time help me figure that out.’’