Bright lights, big sitting for Bulls rookie Marquis Teague
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com October 5, 2012 9:26PM
Marquis Teague, Gorgui Dieng
Updated: November 7, 2012 6:09AM
The elite college program provided the foundation. Summer ball in Las Vegas offered a glimpse. The older brother with three years of playing time in the NBA can try to map it out in detail.
But still there will be a seat with Marquis Teague’s name on it way down on the Bulls’ bench when the regular season begins on Halloween night.
‘‘It’s something you have to go through, no doubt,’’ Teague admitted of his rookie growing pains since being drafted in the first round (29th overall) by the Bulls in June. ‘‘Someone can tell you what to expect, how to deal with it, but until you actually go out there and do it yourself, you have no understanding how tough it is to come out here and put in all the work every day.’’
It’s not as if Teague is your usual overwhelmed 19-year-old out of college, either. There’s NBA pedigree with his older brother, Jeff, a point guard for the Atlanta Hawks. There’s the fact he started for Kentucky as a true freshman last season, helping the Wildcats win the national championship.
While that résumé got Teague’s foot in the door, it guarantees him nothing. Even with the Bulls down a man — make that the 2010-11 MVP — with Derrick Rose sidelined until possibly February, Teague is still third on the point-guard depth chart behind Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson.
‘‘Playing time is going to be based on performance,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said this week.
‘‘Everything is earned here,’’ Teague agreed. ‘‘Like any coach you play for, any team you go to, you have to pretty much prove that you can come in and play on that level.’’
What Teague has shown so far in brief glimpses is that because of his speed and ball-handling, he can get to spots like he did in college. What’s still missing is finishing plays once he gets to those spots. That was the scouts’ knock on him coming out of college.
With Teague also needing to acquire a full understanding of Thibodeau’s defensive-first mentality, expectations are basically that this will be a learning year for him — with a whole lot of sitting.
Sending him to the developmental league to get minutes doesn’t seem like an option yet.
‘‘Well, he’s a lot better now than he was in the summer,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘Right now, him learning our system and learning his teammates, I think it’s a lot better for him to be here, but we’ll see how the season unfolds.’’
The message isn’t lost on Teague.
‘‘You just have to go through this,’’ Teague said. ‘‘Coach Thibs expects a lot out here, so I’m just getting adjusted.’’