Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects: Jeff Teague, Wake Forest

Stats: 18.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.9 spg, 48.5% FG, 44.1% 3PT, 81.7% FT, 3.4 t/os

Listed Size: 6'2", 180 lb, 6/10/1988 (21 years old)

(photo credit: Seattle Times)

About Him: Jeff Teague can flat out score. There is no doubt about that. Anyone that watched him play during the first half of the season, when people had him as a top 5 pick and potential national player of the year, will agree. When Teague is playing on the ball (meaning he is running the point), he was borderline unstoppable this past season. He can go either direction with the dribble, has a quick and long first step that can get him by defenders, and is equally adept and finishing at the rim and shooting a pull-up off the dribble. In fact, his pull-up might be the most dangerous weapon in his repertoire, as he shot 77% of his jumpers off the bounce while scoring .94 PPP (points per possession) in those situations (average was .81 for comparable NBA prospects - from Draft Express).

Where Teague runs into trouble is when he is forced to play off the ball (Ish Smith took over PG duties with 15 games left, which caused Teague's numbers to fall and Wake to go 8-7 - coincidence?). He is a 44% 3PT shooter, but is much less effective in a catch and shoot situation than he is off the dribble. Teague also struggles when he has to come off of screens. The reason for that is his jumper becomes much slower with a much lower release point off the catch, turning into basically a set/push shot. Off the dribble, he gets some elevation and shoots with a much more fluid motion. Watching him this season, it is clear that he needs the ball in his hands to be at his best.

The issue with Teague as an NBA prospect is that while he needs the ball in his hands to be his most effective, he is not a true point guard. He forces bad shots and tough passes, and he has a bad tendency of leaving his feet without knowing where is going with it. This probably means that Teague is destined to be more of a role player/spark plug off the bench than a full-time starter.

Adding to that sentiment is Teague defensively. He has all the tools to be a real pest on that end of the floor - great athleticism, excellent length (6'7" wingspan) - but he just didn't seem interested in playing much defense. He did come up with steals in the passing lanes, but he isn't a great help side defender and really struggled at times keeping his man in front of him. If he does want to be a starter in the league, his effort on the defensive end must improve.

Comparisons: Best Case: Monta Ellis pre-injury, Kevin Johnson; Worst Case: Aaron Brooks, more athletic Flip Murray.

Bottom Line: Teague has the ability to be a real weapon at the next level because he can really fill it up. But he does not yet have the all-around game that you would look for in a full-time starter. It will probably worry some teams that Teague, given his small stature, is probably never going to be a pure point guard. That said, Aaron Brooks this year and Monta Ellis two years ago both proved their value in the playoffs, so expect Teague to go somewhere in the late lottery.


No comments: