Bulls’ Teague ready to pitch in


Aug 14

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Bulls second year point guard Marquis Teague is going to be doing a little pitching Wednesday.

He’ll be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Cubs/Reds game at Wrigley Field. But his best and most important pitch will come a few hours before when Teague addresses about 100 youngsters at the James Jordan Boys and Girls Club as part of the Citi Cubs Kids educational and opportunities program.

“I’ll talk about the things I went through,” said Teague, the Indianapolis native who helped the U. of Kentucky to the 2012 NCAA championship and was a Bulls first round pick. “I’ll talk about what it takes to make this level, to make your goals. How you have to work.

“That’s what it’s been for me, especially this summer,” said Teague, who had a strong summer league for the Bulls in Las Vegas last month. “I’ll talk about my routine, what I do every day, the time you have to spend. Like I’m also doing this summer. You can do things with your friends, but if you’re not in the gym you’re not going to get where you want.

“It always was that way with me,” says Teague. “My (family) made sure before there was any social stuff to do, going outside with your friends, you had to get your work done. It can lead to a scholarship if you don’t have the money for school, like basketball for me. But in whatever you choose. Maybe art or something else. You have to put in the work and get an education.”

Teague has put in the work, and it’s showing.

The little used 6-2 point guard last season who played just 392 minutes in 48 games, averaging 2.1 points and 1.3 assists, was a different player in the summer league, confident and assertive. It was not unlike the transformation the Bulls saw in the summer of 2012 with another low first round draft pick, Jimmy Butler, who played even fewer minutes than Teague as a rookie, 359 minutes in 42 games.

But Butler’s play was a revelation in Las Vegas last summer as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told him to be aggressive and take charge of the team. Butler was fourth in scoring in Las Vegas at 20.8 per game and came on strong last season. Butler now is in line to be the starting shooting guard for the Bulls this season.

Teague, similarly, was impressive this past summer after the Bulls typical rookie hazing in which the rookies tend not to play much. And when they do, they can be tentative in trying not to make a mistake. But once they relax and allow their talents to show, they’ve impressed. As Omer Asik and Jimmy Butler did. And now perhaps it’s Teague’s time. He averaged 18.3 points in Las Vegas last month, eighth overall, and 4.8 assists, ranking fourth among all the summer league players in Las Vegas. Teague also made six of eight three pointers.

“I felt real comfortable in summer league,” said Teague. “I wanted to come out and show leadership. Thibs told me to be a general on the floor, to play with a lot of confidence. I feel my shot was better, my decision making. I was in better shape, more prepared and I knew better what to expect this year.”

It’s also been a more serious and studious Teague, an example for the young people as well. He was a champion at Kentucky, a first round NBA draft pick. But once you stop working and think you have it made, you are quick be left behind.

So not only was Teague better prepared for the summer league, he’s been doing his own two-a-days at the Berto Center most of the summer, preparing for what he also hopes will be a special season with the return of Derrick Rose.

Teague knows with Rose coming back his role will be to support Rose at point guard. But it’s also a vital position as Teague will have to help pick up for the departure of the popular and effective Nate Robinson.

Though Rose is set to return, the 20-year-old Teague could also play an important part this coming season as Butler did in 2012-13. Another low first round pick, 29th in 2012, Teague has unusual quickness and has been able to beat defenders to the basket even when they were playing off him. If his shooting continues to improve as it did in the summer in Las Vegas, he’ll be a useful reserve as the Bulls figure to more limit Rose’s minutes in the regular season coming off his knee surgery.

“I’m feeling real comfortable,” says Teague. “I want to contribute any way the teams needs me. Playing with Derrick was so much fun. Playing with and learning from one of the top point guards in the NBA is great and I only want to help make it easy on him.

“I love our team,” said Teague. “We have great guys who are team oriented and work hard and their main focus is winning. Having a year to watch Nate and Kirk (Hinrich), the way those guys play and practice helped me learn the game better, helps me make the right plays and know how to make the game easier. It comes down to being aggressive and working.”

That’s a big part of Teague’s message at the Boys and Girls Club. The program is also in partnership with the Jackie Robinson foundation and with Citi also making a $10,000 donation to the James Jordan Boys and Girls Club for 250 youngsters to participate in an after school initiative geared toward furthering academic success and opportunity.

Teague wants to show the kids how work and commitment can lead to achieving your goals. He wants to show Thibodeau that as well this season, and perhaps will show off a bit Wednesday with a strike of his own. Because Teague feels he’s just beginning to show the stuff he has.

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