The Chicago Bulls have an answer to their point guard issues on their roster. He makes the Bulls a better team both offensively and defensively. No, I don't mean Derrick Rose. He'll return when he returns. Until then, Marquis Teague should be starting at the point guard position.
Of course, there's a major impediment to this. Head coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't give rookies extensive playing time. But he should, because right now, Teague is the best option the Bulls have going. Instead, he's been juggling between Hinrich, who is ineffective offensively, and Robinson, who is ineffective defensively.
The Chicago Bulls are a better team while he's on the court, whether you're referring to their offense or their defense. On either side of the court, he's their best option. Of course, stating that is one thing—proving it is another.
Let's start with the defense.
Ironically, the easiest way to find your way on the bench with the Bulls is to play poor defense. Teague is doing anything but that. In fact, his defense has been the best of any point guard on the roster, even better than Hinrich's. This is because he has both speed (unlike Hinrich) and length (unlike Robinson).
Both of the other players—especially Hinrich—bring effort on defense, but you can't overcome physical shortcomings. You can't coach speed or length. You can coach defense, and Teague has shown a tremendous willingness to be coached in that regard in terms of his defensive stats.
In all three regards, Teague is easily at the top of the food chain. In fact, his oPER isn't just the best number among the three, it's the best number among all Bulls players and is actually the third-best of any player in the NBA.
It's one thing to merely be a better player, but it's quite another to make the team better. Here is how they impact overall team play when each is on the court. Take particular note of the offensive rating, defensive rating, net rating and true shooting percentages.
The following stats were obtained from NBA.com.
Teague might not be the best scorer or passer among the three, but he has the ability to run the offense better than any of them. The reason is that he has the best ability to break the defense down and retain a semblance of passing mentality.
The Bulls are set up to be a team that plays off Rose's penetration. It's what makes Rose such a special player. He can break down a defense and then create a shot for himself, or if someone comes to help defend him, he has the vision to find the open man and pass the ball out.
Whether it's because of his height or mentality, Robinson lacks the vision to do both of those things. Hinrich lacks the ability to penetrate and break down defenses. Teague is the only one who can do both.
Once again, it's not a problem the Bulls can resolve through coaching. Both Robinson and Hinrich have physical limitations that keep them from being able to run the offense in the best manner possible. Teague does't, which is why he actually runs the offense the best, and does so while also being the best defender among the three.
Some will argue that Teague's numbers are better just because he plays off the bench, so he's going against weaker competition. That means he's also running with weaker teammates offensively, though.
If one assumes that when the Bulls are running their starters, their opponents are as well, then we can compare Teague with the starters compared to how the other two point guards run with the starters. For the purpose of this comparison, Marco Belinelli is considered the starting shooting guard since Teague has not played with Hamilton. The other three starters are Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng.
When comparing that specific lineup, here is how the team fares with each of the three at point guard.
|Player||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||Net Rating|
Here we see that Teague still outshines the other two, if anything by more, not less. Giving him better talent around him makes Teague better, not worse.
You could argue that Teague might do fine when things don't matter as much, but that his youth could be problematic with the game on the line. That's fine. Just because he starts games doesn't mean he has to finish them. Just ask Carlos Boozer. Thibodeau can just go with the hot hand at the end of games.
There is one final argument some might have against such a bold move, which is Teague's production could be a result of a small sample size. After all, Teague has very little experience at the NBA level.
There's some validity to that. He probably would see some fall-off in production. Then again, the thing about inexperience is that it goes away with experience. As the player with the least amount of experience, he also has the most room for growth. Experience will take care of his weakness. It won't do anything for Hinrich's or Robinson's.
You can argue that Teague is already the best option because of his physical attributes. When you couple that with the fact he has the most room for growth and that he is the only one of the three who also fits into the Bulls' plans beyond next season, it makes sense to give him more time now.