After getting smacked down by the best team in the league, there’s usually not a lot to take away. The positives tend to be muted by the ugliness of the loss, while the negatives are tempered by the knowledge the other team is really, really good. However, in the case of the Chicago Bulls 101-83 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, there is one thing worth noting amidst widespread struggles: rookie Marquis Teague.
Teague has had an up and down rookie season. He’s generally performed capably when given extended minutes, but those opportunities are relatively few and far between, much as they were for Jimmy Butler last season, in his rookie year. But with Kirk Hinrich continuing to get hurt every other week, Teague has gotten more chances to prove he belongs in the NBA. Last night’s 11 point, 3 rebound, 3 assist performance was one such example.
Admittedly, that’s not a terribly impressive statline. It’s solid, if not spectacular. There were two main things that stood out: The Bulls took a double-digit lead with Teague on the court — they would later surrender a 14-0 Spurs run with him on the floor, but still — and all 11 points came on jumpers.
Teague’s main weakness coming out of college was/is his jumper, or lack thereof. Thus far, Teague has been largely unwilling to take even open jumpers unless he absolutely has to, at least in part because he can’t make them. He tends to prefer to drive to the rim, and he does that fairly effectively, even as the defense knows full well what he’s going to do. But he showed a quicker trigger than normal as he hit three triples in the second quarter, adding a mid-range jumper off the dribble in the fourth quarter.
Now, while encouraging, odds are this isn’t some kind of turning point in Teague’s development. He missed an open three in the second half that didn’t even come close, and will likely continue missing jumpers from here on. But if he gets some confidence out of this, or if his performance allows Thibs to justify playing him more, the end result will be a major positive for the Bulls.