Teague looking to give summer league his best shot
By Adam Fluck | 07.17.2012
It’s only been two and a half weeks since NBA Commissioner David Stern called his name at No. 29, but Bulls draft pick Marquis Teague feels he has come a long way since then.
This week in Las Vegas, he’ll get to prove it as the Bulls opened summer league play the first of five games on Tuesday against the Boston Celtics.
“I just want to keep working hard and try to learn the system and defensive schemes,” Teague told Bulls.com between workouts at the Berto Center last week. “Hopefully I can come out and perform at a high level, and do what the coaches ask me, and run my team.”
While Teague was at home in Indianapolis on the night of the draft with family and friends, he arrived in Chicago for his formal introduction the following Monday.
Since then, he’s kept busy with two a day workout sessions at the Bulls’ practice facility. Teague said he’s spent the majority of time on the court focusing on his shooting—particularly his outside shot—and conditioning. And he’s had some help from one of the Berto Center regulars.
“Coach Thibs has been huge for me,” Teague said of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “He’s been drilling me every day, working me out and helping me get shots up. He’s been giving me tips on what I could adjust on my shot and getting me set with defensive strategies already. I feel like I’m off to a good start.”
Though he’s yet to step foot on the United Center floor as a member of the Bulls—though he did play there in the 2011 McDonald’s All-America Game—Teague said Thibodeau and the coaching staff have made a great impression on him to this point.
“It’s a great organization,” Teague said of joining the Bulls. “They obviously want guys who are going to come in and work hard. They want winners.”
It just so happens Teague knows a thing or two about winning, given he left a collegiate program that went 38-2 and captured the 2012 NCAA national championship.
“It was fun and a big learning experience,” Teague said of his one season at Kentucky. “It taught me how to become a better leader and be a winner. Being able to win a championship and play for Coach Cal (John Calipari) provided me with a lot of experience.”
While nothing can truly prepare a young player for the jump from college to the NBA, Teague’s transition will probably be a little easier given he played with such an abundance of talent in college. Prior to his own selection in last month’s NBA Draft, three teammates were picked—including the top two overall selections in Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist—and two followed him.
“It was great to play the point guard position with so many talented guys,” said Teague. “I learned things like where they liked to get the ball and got them in a position to score. It helped me out a lot.”
As for what to expect out of Teague, the 19-year old has developed a reputation for having the ability to push the ball up the court, attack the rim and make plays, whether they are for his teammates or himself.
“I just try to get in the paint as much as I can to get easy layups or create an open shot for one of my teammates off my penetration,” said Teague. “I like to get after people on defense and make it as hard on them as possible. I’ll do anything I can to help my team win.”
While he attended Pike High School in Indianapolis, Teague kept a close eye on players such as Baron Davis and Steve Francis to see how they led their teams. But in recent years, he’s shifted his focus to point guards like Tony Parker and Chris Paul.
“They’re leaders on the floor, always communicating with their team and getting everyone where they need to be,” Teague explained. “Then, they go out and dominate.”
Teague is keenly aware that another young point guard has developed as one of the NBA’s best players after just four professional seasons. But he also knows that the Bulls will be without Derrick Rose to start the 2012-13 season.
And though Teague can’t wait to learn from Rose, let alone play with him, he also hopes that his absence creates an opportunity to establish himself in the NBA. Until then, Teague is optimistic that one of the team’s mainstays will help sustain success.
“The Bulls are a great defensive team and that’s how you win,” said Teague of playing without Rose. “I feel like no matter what, we’re going to come out and play defense. If we do that and work hard, we’ll be OK.”