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Backup point guard Marquis Teague ready to contribute

Brooklyn Nets v Chicago Bulls - Game Six

Brooklyn Nets v Chicago Bulls - Game Six

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Updated: November 3, 2013 6:25AM



Backup point guard Marquis Teague wasn’t going out like that.

‘‘No, one more,’’ Teague said after what was supposed to be the last shot of his post-practice shootaround teased the rim
before lipping out. ‘‘I’ve got to leave with a better feeling than that.’’

After being selected 29th overall in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft, Teague heard his share of criticism throughout his rookie
season. Whether it was on talk shows, on social media or from fans, Teague admitted in July that he ‘‘heard the noise.’’

Then again, was it even fair to criticize Teague? A then-19-year-old who had played only one college
season at Kentucky was
being asked to give the Bulls playing time he wasn’t prepared to give.

When the Bulls picked Teague, they did so thinking Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson would hold down the fort at point guard
until Derrick Rose could
return from the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the second half of the season.

But Rose never returned and Hinrich battled health issues all season, so Teague was forced into playing more than the Bulls thought he would. He averaged 2.1 points on 38 percent shooting in 48 regular-season games and led the team in quick hooks from coach Tom Thibodeau when things didn’t go well.

There were two things Teague could have done when the season ended: wilt or go back to work. He chose the latter.

Teague was working out at the Berto Center just weeks after the Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs by the Miami Heat, and it showed in the 18.3 points and 4.8 assists he averaged during NBA Summer League play. He looked and played with confidence, and that hasn’t let up with the start of training camp.

‘‘I’ve got a year under my belt; I feel like I got a lot of experience,’’ Teague said. ‘‘I feel like I’ve been working hard over the summer, so I’m just confident in my abilities. I’m just ready.’’

That all will be tested. Teague is still the youngest player on the roster, but the bar has been raised now that the organization has taken notice of the work he has put in.

‘‘He could,’’ Thibodeau said when asked whether Teague could be a rotation player this season. ‘‘I think he had a very good summer. I think he’s a far different player today than he was a year ago, for certain.’’

Credit Teague for that, but also credit teammate Jimmy Butler. Like Teague, Butler went from underwhelming rookie two seasons ago to the starting shooting guard this season. Teague recognized that.

‘‘You don’t want nothing handed to you,’’ Teague said. ‘‘Everything you get, you’ve got to work for it, especially playing for someone like Thibs. That just pushes me to go even harder every day.’’

Through the first few days of camp, Teague has seen a lot of playing time with the second unit. He even has played alongside Hinrich in a two-point-guard set.

Hinrich will be eligible for free agency after this season, so the pressure for Teague to progress won’t be going away any time soon. But it’s a pressure Teague is better equipped to handle.

‘‘I put in a lot of work, a lot of repetition,’’ Teague said. ‘‘I just know what to expect.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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