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Is Jeff Teague a Blessing in Disguise for the Timberwolves?

We are roughly two days removed from the trade that sent point guard Ricky Rubio to the Utah Jazz in exchange for a 2018 first round pick. Shortly after NBA Free Agency started, the Minnesota Timberwolves signed point guard Jeff Teague to a 3-year $57 million deal as Rubio’s replacement.

Timberwolves fans instantly panicked after the move was made following months of trade rumors involving their favorite point guard. Rubio was the longest tenured player and was beloved by the fan base.

Rubio definitely improved last season, but the signing of Teague may be a blessing in disguise.

Teague, a former all-star and overall solid player, could potentially be the scoring threat at the point guard position Rubio never was.

While Rubio had an improved second half last season, there was underlying inconsistency that was swept under the rug by many fans. Below are Rubio’s game logs from April of last season:

Date

Opponent Points

FG%

04-01-2017

SAC 11

10.0

04-03-2017 POR 11

28.6

04-04-2017

GSW 15

35.3

04-06-2017

POR 19

42.1

04-07-2017

UTA 26

50.0

04-09-2017

LAL 2

10.0

04-11-2017

OKC 14

30.8

That is only a sample from April, but it highlights Rubio’s inconsistency and how the Timberwolves likely couldn’t depend on him to score over a full season. Let’s compare Rubio’s second half statistics with Teague’s full season.

Player

FG% PPG

3P%

Ricky Rubio 2nd Half

40.4 15.9

36.2

Jeff Teague 2016-2017 Season

44.2 15.3

35.7

Full discretion, Rubio had a higher AST/TO ratio and graded higher in other statistics given this sample size. But the point I am making is more about defense’s perception of Rubio’s scoring ability, how they defend him and how that impacts the other players on the floor. In Rubio’s best statistical stretch of his career, it is comparable with Teague’s full season body of work. See BBall Breakdown’s video of Rubio early in the season. Notice how teams go under the screen and roll, not respecting Rubio’s scoring ability.

So defenses don’t respect Rubio’s scoring ability, why is that a problem?

The problem is that it hurts the rest of the players on the floor. Rubio is fantastic distributing the basketball, but defenders sag off him regularly taking away driving and passing lanes for other players.

One reason the Golden State Warriors have success on offense is that everyone on the floor is a threat to score. Defenses can’t afford to sag off or double anyone on their team because everyone is capable of hitting a pull up jumper or blowing by their defender.

Defenses won’t have that luxury with Teague on the floor. No longer will teams be able to hide a minus defender on Rubio, solely focusing their attention and efforts elsewhere. Center Karl-Anthony Towns is going to see less double teams in the post, creating more space for him to score or dish to an open shooter. The player guarding Teague won’t be able to help on shooting guard Jimmy Butler and small forward Andrew Wiggins nearly as much considering he is a more capable scorer than Rubio.

Below are various videos that show Teague’s ability to score, distribute the basketball and push the pace. Also, when in pick n’ roll scenarios, defenders go over the top to defend Teague, as opposed to going under against Rubio. While this may not seem like a big deal, it creates more scoring opportunities for other Timberwolves because it doesn’t clog the paint.

The Timberwolves now have a legitimate scoring threat at the point guard position to play alongside Butler, Towns and Wiggins. Whenever one of the Timberwolves’ stars has an off night, there is plenty of firepower to pick up the slack.

I am as sad to see Rubio part ways with the Timberwolves as much as any other fan, but this may be for the better. As great as Rubio is distributing the ball, his scoring ability could have limited the offensive spacing and scoring ability of the other offensively talented players on the Timberwolves.

Logan Metzger is a contributor to HowlinTwolf.com. Follow him on Twitter:@loganmetzger33

2 thoughts on “Is Jeff Teague a Blessing in Disguise for the Timberwolves?

  1. Rubio is an absolute liability in every offensive game ending 1/2 court situation. Look at the record in one possession games. We should be celebrating his departure. Not sure if Teague is the answer, but Rubio is not. One good thing about Rubio, great hands. His knack for getting his hands on lose balls is impressive. But, that’s just not enough. Also celebrate Shabazz departure. Not sure what city he’ll end up in, but pretty sure it will be to his left. That’s the only way he can go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol on the bazz left comment. Agree with your comment. I think this is a good thing for the Wolves even though a lot of fans loved Rubio, I don’t think he was ever going to develop as an offensive player defenses schemed for or feared.

      Like

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