The trade that sent Ricky Rubio to the Utah Jazz this off-season was a shock for some, a relief for others and sure reminder that Tom Thibodeau is building this team the way he desires.
Thibs, Scott Layden and the Timberwolves front office followed this move up just hours later, signing former Indiana Pacers Guard Jeff Teague to a 3-year, 57 million dollar contract.
The move had mixed reactions shuttering through the fan base.
Some believe Teague will bring the shooting touch Rubio so sorely lacked, others think Rubio’s passing ability and leadership will not be fulfilled to the same level by Teague.
The basic statistics paint an expected picture.
Teague scores better and more efficiently than his counterpart – 15.3PPG on 44/36/87 shooting splits compared to Rubio’s 11.1PPG on 40/30/89 shooting – while Rubio is a more efficient passer and floor general – 9.1 assists and 2.6 turnovers per game compared to Teague’s 7.8 assists with 2.6 turnovers per game.
Dig deeper then, we shall.
Rubio dominated Teague in every passing statistic this season, making more passes, getting more secondary assists (hockey assists) and created more points off assists than Teague per NBA stats, even with a team that won significantly less games.
And as expected, Teague dispatches Rubio in the scoring and shooting stats, driving the ball to score (wayyyy) more and finishing at a higher clip, as well as shooting a better percentage from every spot on the floor, with more attempts at each.
Diving deeper in to the defensive stats is where things get interesting though.
Widely regarded as the better defender, Rubio is inferior in multiple important defensive categories. Teague had more Defensive Win Shares, a better Defensive Rating, Took more charges and contested more shots per game, according to NBA stats.
We all know how much Tom Thibodeau loves his defense, and maybe this sneaky-good defense from Teague caught his eye this past season, but what we can decipher is that the style of basketball Minnesota are looking to play is a big reason why Thibodeau has casted Ricky Rubio aside in favour of Teague.
Ball movement, drive and kick and pick and roll will all feature heavily in the Timberwolves offensive schemes this year, Teague is capable of being the initiator or the kick out 3 point option on all these plays.
Teague is a great player driving and looking to score or create for others, and shoots just under 38% on catch and shoot threes. Rubio may be a wizard when it comes to making others better, but his offensive deficiencies when it comes to shooting hinder the space that stars Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and now Jimmy Butler need to execute their ball dominant play.
Ricky Rubio was a fine servant of the Minnesota Timberwolves, we (most) loved him, and he loved us back:
Basketball brought me here 6 years ago. I didn't know much about Minnesota, and now I'm proud to call it home. You never know what this journey will bring you, and I wouldn't change a bit of mine over the last 6 years. I remember arriving here like it was yesterday. I stepped out of the airport and was overwhelmed with your support. It's something I'll never forget. What we have in Minnesota is special and you don't know that until you live there. You helped me to grow as a player, but more importantly as a person. I learned a lot, met incredible people who became part of my family and will always be in my heart…. especially you, Flip. I gave my best night after night. I'm sorry we couldn't make the playoffs because you deserve it. I am grateful to the Timberwolves organization and all of my coaches, trainers and staff. Finally, I want to thank all of the amazing teammates I was fortunate to play alongside for the last 6 years. I wish nothing but the best for you guys.
‘La Pistola’ will be missed in the Twin Cities, but his replacement Jeff Teague may be a upgrade when it comes to a winning style of play, and we as fans can’t wait to see if the new look Timberwolves can acquire those wins.
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