When you are the replacement to a fan favorite, you often receive a lot of unfair criticism and endless comparisons to the player you replaced. When Tom Thibodeau, Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations, traded Ricky Rubio to the Utah Jazz for a 1st round pick, there was uproar by many who follow the Wolves closely and from afar. Then, to make matters worse, Teague was signed to a 3 year deal worth $57 million with the third year being a player option. This was well above his market value which further infuriated Wolves fans.
Teague’s biggest strength is his scoring which is something the Wolves don’t necessarily need but it was still a positive on the season. He averaged 14.2 points per game on 11.3 field goal attempts. Teague shot 44% from the field, 36% from outside, and 84% from the free throw line. All really solid numbers shooting wise. Teague averaged 7 assists per game, which could be a little higher due to the fact he has a surplus of talent on the court with him, but it’s not an awful number by any means.
The biggest complaints with Teague, other than the fact he’s not Ricky Rubio, were his defense, passes into the post, and refusal to shoot open threes. Teague’s defense was not great to say it kindly. He was often beat off the dribble, which forces Karl-Anthony Towns to make a decision to attack the ball handler or stick with the big man. Teague would also go for steals too often, leaving him and his teammates in poor position to get a stop. For some reason, Teague would throw really lazy passes into the post for Towns and Taj Gibson. These passes were picked off easily and led to simple fast breaks for the other team. Entry passes should be fairly simple for a former all-star point guard, but Teague had trouble this year for some reason. Furthermore, Teague would often get the ball kicked to him from drives by Butler and Wiggins or from the post by Towns but he refused to shoot on a number of instances, even when he was wide open. Next year Teague should look to be more aggressive in spot up jumpers from outside.
Overall, Wolves fans should be happy with the production they received from Teague. His contract is another story. If Teague can minimize his defensive woes, be sharper on his entry passes, and be more aggressive spotting up, Wolves fans will be much happier with his performance. Teague also needs to work on keeping the offense flowing and getting Towns the ball more but that is ultimately up to Thibodeau and his schemes on offense. Even if Teague is the exact same player as last year, which is the most likely scenario, the Timberwolves will be content. If he’s worse, prepare yourself for more Rubio comparisons.
photo credit minnesota.cbslocal.com