When Derrick Rose first got injured, the Bulls were sent scrambling to find a backup point guard. They tried Nate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich and Marco Belinelli in the role, but none of those were long-term solutions. Belinelli signed with the Spurs and was a more of a shooting guard anyway. Robinson moved on to sign with the Nuggets. Hinrich is still in Chicago plugging along, but is entering the end of his career.
There was only one young option on the roster — former first round pick Marquis Teague.
Teague played sparingly in 48 games during his rookie campaign last year as Tom Thibodeau relied heavily on his starters and never quite trust the 29th overall pick in the Draft.
It was clear though that the Bulls hoped Teague would develop into a backup point guard option behind Rose. Someone who could spread the floor with his shooting and continue to put pressure on defenses. They sent him down to the D-League, hoping to get him some seasoning. He had moderate success there averaging 12.0 points and 4.6 assists per game in 24 minutes per game for the Iowa Energy in eight appearances.
He bounced back up to the Bulls in January only to be traded to the Nets only a few days later. Teague has received about 10.6 minutes per game in nine appearances and is averaging a hair better than four points per game. He has two years left on his first-round pick contract and is still waiting for his chance.
It just won’t come with the Bulls as that potential Derrick Rose backup or heir.
“Any time you have a young player, and Marquis has had some good moments too,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s very young. You look at Marq, we view him the same way. Usually you play eight or nine guys, the guys who are not in the rotation they have to stay ready. They are an injury or foul trouble away from being in there. You try to figure out what is best for the team first, that’s the first priority. Then you look at the player and ask yourself whether he would benefit from playing a few games down there.”
Teague undoubtedly could use a shot in the arm. After leaving a team with an uncertain point guard situation, the Nets decidedly will use him more like a shooting guard. They already have Deron Williams (injury prone as he is) and Shaun Livingston to play the point. Maybe dealing away Jason Terry frees up space for him.
What is clear is that for young players like Teague, finding confidence is a delicate balance.
He struggled in the D-League and has not had his chance to make his mark on the big stage of the NBA. He has some skills that should have helped him translate, but probably not the maturity to put those to good use. He spent just one year at Kentucky before jumping to the NBA for the 2012 Draft. He tried to take advantage of the team’s national championship run and snuck into the late first round.
That has not taken away from what his teammates think and thought of him.
“I think when he’s been here, he has done all the right things,” Hinrich said. “He puts his work in, he plays hard, he practices hard. He works on his game. He’s still very young. A lot of times with young players they just need to play.”
It is now finding that opportunity for a young guy like Teague to play that is the hangup. The Nets may not afford him that opportunity and the D-League, it appears, did not boost his confidence.
For a young player, confidence can be everything. A defined role and pressure can crush. Nobody quite knows what to think of Teague as a player two years into his career or how to salvage the talent he has.