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.
February 18, 2020, 10:25 pmJohn Beilein, Cleveland Cavaliers
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, John Beilein is leaving as the Cavs’ coach and J.B. Bickerstaff will be elevated to head coach.
It’s still not official, but once Woj says it’s happening, it’s happening. A shake-up is likely to be a great thing for this roster that contains at least a few unhappy star players in Kevin Love and Andre Drummond. Be ready to act on any significant role changes that come with this move. For example, will Larry Nance Jr. and/or Kevin Porter Jr. take on expanded roles?
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 7:23 pmTerry RozierPG, Charlotte Hornets
Terry Rozier (left knee soreness) practiced in full on Tuesday.
Rozier missed the Hornet's final game heading into the All-Star break, but it wasn't considered to be a long-term concern. Feel free to get Rozier back into all lineups ahead of Thursday's game against the Bulls.
Source: Rod Boone on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 7:18 pmDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Coach Terry Stotts said that he wouldn't put a timetable on when star point guard Damian Lillard (right groin strain) would return, but he is expected to be re-evaluated on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Lillard was given a timetable of 1-2 weeks last Wednesday, as the All-Star break came at an ideal time. Lillard has a shot to avoid any missed time if his re-evaluation shows progress, but owners should prepare for a scenario in which he misses a handful of games. The Blazers have five games remaining in February.
Source: NBC Sports
February 18, 2020, 7:12 pmDario SaricPF, Phoenix Suns
The Suns expect Dario Saric (left ankle) to be available to play against the Raptors on Friday.
James Jones said that he expects everyone outside ok Frank Kaminsky to be available for Friday's game, meaning Tyler Johnson will be out there as well. While Saric has been out, Mikal Bridges has seen his role expand while Kelly Oubre Jr. has played a lot of PF. Keep an eye on how the rotation shakes out now that the Suns are healthy shakes out.
Source: Kellan Olson on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 7:08 pmAron BaynesC, Phoenix Suns
James Jones said that he expects Aron Baynes (left hip soreness) to be available for Friday's game against the Raptors.
Baynes will be joining Deandre Ayton and the rest of the injured Suns' players in returning for this one. Baynes hasn't played in roughly a month and should be seeing a minimal role off the bench down the stretch. He can be left on the waiver wire unless something happens to Ayton.
Source: Kellan Olson on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 7:03 pmDeandre AytonC, Phoenix Suns
James Jones said that he expects Deandre Ayton (left ankle soreness) to be available to play against the Raptors on Friday.
Ayton missed a few games to close out the first half, but it looks like the second-year big man will be good to go when the Suns return to action. Ayton was putting up top-12/16 per-game value in 9/8 cat leagues in the 13 games before going down, and owners have to be ecstatic to get him back in their lineups. Cheick Diallo will revert to a deep reserve role.
Source: Kellan Olson on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 6:58 pmCody MartinPF, Charlotte Hornets
Cody Martin (concussion protocol) fully participated in Tuesday's practice session.
Martin found himself in the starting lineup before going down a few weeks ago, as he has started to earn a bigger role in coach James Borrego's rotation. With Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out of the picture, Martin should have a reasonably safe role for the second half of the season.
Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 6:49 pmClint CapelaC, Atlanta Hawks
Clint Capela (right heel) did not participate in Tuesday's practice.
Capela doesn't have a specific target date as he continues to fight the heel issue. With Capela out, Dewayne Dedmon will continue to absorb the bulk of minutes at C with Damian Jones backing him up. Over his past four games, Dedmon has averaged 8.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 3.8 blocks and 1.0 trey in 28.3 minutes per game.
Source: Chris Kirschner on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 6:43 pmOtto Porter Jr.SF, Chicago Bulls
Otto Porter Jr. (left foot fracture) returned to Bulls practice on Tuesday.
Porter added that he felt good and will return to game action when is 100 percent healthy. It was being reported earlier this week that Porter is eyeing a return before the end of the month, and this would be in line with that projection. It is unclear what type of minutes Porter can handle down the stretch, but his versatile skillset makes for an upside stash in fantasy circles.
Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 6:37 pmWendell Carter Jr.C, Chicago Bulls
Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle sprain) resumed practicing on Tuesday as he eyes a return to game action.
Carter is hopeful of playing when the Bulls return to action against the Hornets on Thursday. The Bulls may take a cautious approach and let him get in a few more practices before clearing him, but Carter's arrow is pointing straight up right now. If he is lingering on your league's waiver wire, go grab him.
Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter