For Bulls rookie Marquis Teague, it’s a low-pressure life
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com July 21, 2012 5:44PM
Marquis Teague is getting better this summer, and that’s all the Bulls are asking. | Garrett W. Ellwood~Getty Images
Updated: August 23, 2012 10:38AM
LAS VEGAS — Rookie point guard Marquis Teague is doing the only thing the Bulls want him to do in the summer league this week. He’s learning.
Teague, the 29th overall pick of the NBA draft who won the 2012 NCAA title with Kentucky, was selected after Derrick Rose tore knee ligaments in the playoffs. But he’s not expected to be Rose’s replacement. In fact, he’s not expected to be anything but better today than he was yesterday.
‘‘He’s 19 years old,’’ Bulls general manager Gar Forman said as he watched Teague play markedly better in his second summer-league game than he did in his first. ‘‘We didn’t draft him for need. We drafted who we thought was the best player left on the board.
‘‘Our expectation isn’t for him to perform at a certain level right away — just that he’ll continue to work and get better. If he can help us [this season], great. If he doesn’t, we realize it will take time for him to develop.’’
By those modest standards, Teague has met expectations in the early going of the summer league. He struggled in his first game Tuesday, scoring eight points on 4-for-17 shooting with one assist and six turnovers against the Boston Celtics. He looked like a 19-year-old rookie point guard playing his first game with teammates he had never played with before — hesitant, passive and out of sync.
‘‘His intensity has got to pick up,’’ said Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, who’s coaching the summer-league team.
In his second game Thursday against the Houston Rockets, Teague scored 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting and had five assists, five turnovers, one steal and one blocked shot. Still a long, long way from where he needs to be, but he has a long time to get there.
‘‘Pretty much everything,’’ Teague said. ‘‘They told me to play my game and do what I do. That’s what I tried to do. I was just trying to push the ball and get easy layups and open shots for my teammates. I feel I got a lot smoother. I made a few more baskets. Still working on it. But my shooting was better. By the time the season starts, I feel I’ll be where I need to be.’’
Teague wasn’t the best point guard in either game. E’Twaun Moore, who played with the Celtics as a rookie last season, scored 25 points and had seven rebounds against the Bulls. Scott Machado, the Rockets’ 22-year-old rookie from Iona, had 20 points, six assists and four steals to lead the Rockets to a 96-88 victory.
‘‘Like a lot of rookies, he’s got to learn how hard he has to play, how physical the game is — that’s it,’’ Forman said when asked what he was looking for from Teague in the summer-league games. ‘‘The summer league is so different. I remember 10 years ago, Kirk Hinrich had nine turnovers in his first summer-league game. It’s all just a first step in what will be a long process.’’
The Bulls will be happy if Teague follows the same path as Jimmy Butler, last year’s first-round pick who played sparingly as a rookie but looks ready to earn a spot in the rotation in his second season.
‘‘I’m just measuring how [Teague is] developing — that’s it,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘‘If he’s putting everything he has into it, he’s going to be fine. Whatever he gives us [this season] is a bonus. It has to go step by step.’’
Teague said he plans to work on his mid-range jumper so defenders can’t play behind screens to prevent him from driving to the basket so easily. But his biggest challenge will be acclimating himself to the speed and physical play of the NBA. It’s going to take time.
‘‘I’m a basketball player; I want to play,’’ Teague said. ‘‘But I know in [the NBA] you have to wait your turn. I can sit back and learn from Derrick Rose and when my number’s called, be ready.’’