May 29, 2018, 6:18 pm
The next entry to the our player spotlight series is the incumbent starting point guard for the Wolves, Jeff Teague. After trading away the point guard of the present, Ricky Rubio, and the point guard of the future, Kris Dunn, the Wolves were left with a glaring hole at the lead guard position.
The Wolves were clearly in a win-now situation so a veteran addition was the most obvious solution, and the free agent market was stacked with plenty of seasoned options. Kyle Lowry was courted for a while, but it was always tough to envision him moving on from Toronto. George Hill was considered, but his injury history and Tom Thibodeau’s grueling reputation didn’t make a perfect match.
Teague was a great fit in Thibs’ eyes, better than the departed fan favorite who had a penchant for flashy passes and a flair to his game, and certainly better than starting the second-year point guard.
Teague brought an aggressive mentality, one that was willing to attack the rim, was comfortable in the pick-and-roll and one that could reliably hit a jump shot. There were other options out there that were better at some things, but Teague was one of the more well-rounded options available, and with Jimmy Butler now around to take some pressure off whoever would man the point, the Wolves only needed someone reliable.
Another factor that played in Teague’s favor was his post-season experience. Since being drafted in 2009, Teague had made a playoff appearance every year, while being the starter for six of those runs. Thibs values playoff experience above all else, and Teague had a tremendous amount of it.
Given all of those factors Teague ended up being a logical, if not obvious, choice for the Wolves. He wasn’t the most attractive option but he checked a lot of boxes and brought stability to a position of need.
2017/18 Stats: 70 G | 70 GS | 33.0 MP | 14.2 PTS | 3.0 REB | 7.0 AST | 1.5 STL | 0.3 BLK | 2.5 TOV | 44.6 FG% | 36.8 3P% | 84.5 FT% | 49.9 eFG% | 20.6 USG% | 111 ORate | 109 DRate
Statistically, Teague was right in line with his last five seasons, seeing a modest drop-off in points, assists and usage rate, which was no surprise given Jimmy Butler’s presence. Unlike most other players on the team, though, Teague didn’t see a drastic drop in shot attempts. He actually saw slightly more per game than last year.
The difference was Teague sacrificed some shots at the rim in favor of mid-range or 3-point shots, and his free throw attempts were his lowest in five seasons. This difference was negligible, and for the Wolves it was made up for by Butler driving to the rim and drawing fouls.
Teague’s shot chart paints a modest picture, no glaring holes but also no major strengths, courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
He could stand to be better in the paint which was a major reason the Wolves wanted an upgrade over Rubio, but Teague was still below the league average overall.
According to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, Teague was 25th among all point guards in the NBA, an unspectacular but overall still positive number. His offense was better than his defense, unsurprisingly, ranking 20th overall in offense and 65th on defense.
Defense was Teague’s main problem throughout the year. While the Wolves just needed stability on offense, with Karl-Anthony Towns and Butler carrying the major burden in that regard, the defense often broke down with Teague on the floor.
Too often Teague would float away from a 3-point shooter, get lost in the defensive pick-and-roll or would be defeated off the dribble. Teague isn’t strong enough to bully bigger players, and he’s not quick enough to keep pace with the faster ones.
The Wolves’ defensive rating would improve when he stepped off the floor, but the offensive rating would as well.
More or less Teague was just completely average, which is what the Wolves expected to get out of him, but it often felt like the Wolves could be getting more out of the position. He wasn’t absolutely killing the Wolves, but there’s certainly a discussion to be had that the Wolves could upgrade the position, and the solution might already by on their roster.
Tyus Jones was the best point guard for the Wolves this season, according ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus. Jones was seventh overall and second in defensive real plus-minus. Jones was a much better defender and hit his shots at a similar percentage to Teague, just at a lower rate.
The Wolves needed stability at the point guard position, but perhaps they were looking in the wrong direction. The Wolves paid for offensive stability on a team that had the most efficient big man in the NBA and three 20-point scorers. What they needed was defensive stability on a team that had one good defensive wing and a two big men in a four-out NBA world.
Jones does the things well most of the team does poorly, whereas Teague does the things well most of the team already has success in.
Teague was perhaps criticized unfairly for his production. It was right in line with his career trajectory and he performed about exactly as one could have expected. The problem isn’t Teague, it’s his fit, the redundancy of having him around.
His efforts still helped the Wolves achieve the playoffs, and he was one of the better players in their first round matchup against the Houston Rockets. It’s also no guarantee that with more minutes Jones would still be an effective player. With Teague, you know what you’re getting. He’s a safe bet, even if the payout isn’t very high.
The Wolves paid a steep price for Teague’s average production. He signed a three-year, $57 million contract, with the final year being a player option worth $19 million. That puts him as the third-highest paid player on the roster next season.
On a team that’s tight for cap space, that is a large chunk of change. Compare that to Jones’ modest $2.5 million salary for next year (the last year of his rookie contract), and perhaps the Wolves will explore their options on shopping him around.
The problem is there aren’t many teams out there that are looking for a point guard, or able to take on much salary, or both. Perhaps the Knicks consider a Courtney Lee-Jeff Teague swap, though Lee’s defensive issues are more prevalent than Teague’s.
Most likely, the Wolves are comfortable with Teague’s stability and despite their desire to cut some salary see him as a piece to the puzzle as opposed to a throwaway. It seems that, at least for one more year, the Wolves fans will have to contend with Teague starting over Jones. That isn’t a bad thing or a good thing, but somewhere in the middle, as it always it with Teague.
August 22, 2019, 3:27 pmKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Team USA has named Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell as captains for the FIBA World Cup.
Congratulations to Mitchell, Walker and Smart on the tremendous honor of being named captains for the USA men's team. This won't have any impact on their upcoming fantasy seasons, but it is a major accomplishment nonetheless. Team USA has an exhibition rematch against Team Australia on Saturday.
August 22, 2019, 12:25 pmIsaiah CanaanPG, International
Isaiah Canaan has signed a contract with the Shangdong Heroes of the Chinese Basketball Association.
The veteran journeyman played for the Suns, Wolves and Bucks last season, appearing in 30 games total. Canaan will be looking at a more prominent role and payday overseas as he attempts to build his value back up before trying to latch on to a team towards the end of the year. Canaan is off the fantasy radar.
Source: Zhang Duo on Twitter
August 22, 2019, 11:58 amPatty MillsPG, San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills put up 19 points, three assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in Thursday's international exhibition between Team Australia and Team USA.
The Boomers figure to be one of the chief threats to the Americans in the World Cup and put forth a competitive effort in today's exhibition. Mills has typically been a steady, late-round fantasy option for deep-league play but that may change this season as the Spurs will need to mix in both Derrick White and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt. Chris Goulding tied for the team lead in points, also scoring 19 while hitting four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench.
August 22, 2019, 11:54 amMyles TurnerC, Indiana Pacers
Myles Turner put up 15 points and 14 rebounds in Thursday's exhibition win over Team Australia, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor with a 3-pointer.
Turner didn't get any blocks but we know that last year's league-leader can rack those up in a hurry, whether he's getting them in international competition or not. Look for another early-middle round season out of the talented big man. Kemba Walker led Team USA with 23 points in the 102-86 win.
August 21, 2019, 6:26 pmTrevon BluiettPF, Utah Jazz
Trevon Bluiett and Juwan Morgan sign with the Jazz in the hopes of one day playing in an NBA game.
Bluiett was on a two-way contract with the Pelicans last season while Juwan Morgan played for the Jazz in the 2019 Summer League. They will both compete for a roster spot in training camp but neither is a guarantee to make the final roster. They both have yet to see the court in an NBA game and can be ignored from a fantasy perspective until that day comes.
Source: Tony Jones on Twitter
August 21, 2019, 5:25 pmZach CollinsC, Portland Trail Blazers
Zach Collins (ankle) began daily contact workouts on Monday and is on pace to head into training camp fully healthy.
Collins is heading into what could be a breakout season as he is likely to start at the power forward position. In the 2019 playoffs, the Gonzaga product blocked a shot in 11 of the 16 games including three games in which he blocked three, four and five respectively. Collins has averaged around 33% from distance throughout his career which is exactly what he shot in the postseason (7-21). If he is able to improve from long range and plays starters minutes, Collins is a can't-miss player. It's far from a guarantee though as the 21-year-old has never finished with standard-league value. It does seem like Collins will be ready for training camp barring a major setback.
Source: The Athletic
August 21, 2019, 10:34 amCory JosephPG, Sacramento Kings
Nick Nurse said that reports of Cory Joseph missing the FIBA World Cup are “incorrect”.
Nurse added that he spoke to Joseph on Wednesday and that the guard has his flights booked to China. Joseph was in Canada’s camp at home earlier this month, but did not make the trip to Australia and has missed the past four exhibition games. The situation has become a little bit murky but Canada Basketball keeps holding out hope that Joseph will rejoin the team before they depart for China, which doesn’t happen until Monday.
Source: John Casey on Twitter
August 20, 2019, 10:33 pmTyronn LuePG, Los Angeles Clippers
Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting former Cavs championship-winning coach Tyronn Lue has agreed to join the Clippers as their top assistant coach to Doc Rivers.
The Lakers and Clippers rivalry continues to heat up. Lue was very close to a deal with the Lakers in May to become their head coach, but the sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Lue now joins Kawhi Leonard as another person to spurn the Lakers this offseason.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
August 20, 2019, 10:28 pmPJ TuckerSF, Houston Rockets
P.J. Tucker says he is optimistic about signing a contract extension soon.
The 34-year-old 3-and-D wing hopes to extend his deal with the Rockets, but a potential extension wouldn't begin until his age-36 season. Houston has him under contract for two more seasons at this point, so they may not be motivated enough to get something done this offseason. However, a maximum Tucker extension would only have him in the $10 million per year range. Even as a 37-year-old, that could be a great deal if he can keep up his current production. Tucker remains a sneaky source of threes and steals late in fantasy drafts or off the wire.
Source: Kurt Helin on Twitter
August 20, 2019, 6:11 pmJaylen AdamsPG, Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks officially announced the signings of guards Jaylen Adams and Rayjon Tucker on Tuesday.
Adams and Tucker have their work cut out for them in their bid to claim a roster with the big club, as the Bucks have a reasonably deep guard rotation. Adams and Tucker are more than likely competing to get playing time in the G-League this season and can be ignored in fantasy.