Which Jeff Teague will his NBA team wind up selecting?Jekyll and Hyde
by Keith Langlois
EDITOR’S NOTE: Pistons.com continues its draft series with the ninth in a series of profiles of players who figure to be under consideration by the Pistons for their pick at No. 15 in the first round of the June 25 draft. Today’s installment looks at Wake Forest point guard Jeff Teague. AUBURN HILLS, Mich.
- Evaluating draft prospects is always a study in comparative analysis. A prospect is analyzed relative to the competition he faced, relative to the circumstances surrounding him and relative to the success of prospects of similar size and other tangibles who preceded him to the NBA.
Where Wake Forest point guard Jeff Teague is concerned, another variable has cropped up: Jeff Teague of February and March relative to Jeff Teague of December and January.
Teague began his sophomore season at Wake Forest as someone on the fringe of the NBA’s radar. Then he rocketed into lottery status with astounding performances in the early season as Wake Forest got off to a 16-0 start and ascended to No. 1 in the national polls. A game that typified Teague’s red-hot start: In a 92-89 win over eventual national champion North Carolina, Teague had 36 points, six assists and four rebounds.
Scouts looked at Teague and saw someone very similar to Devin Harris, who spent three years at Wisconsin and became the No. 5 pick in the 2004 draft. The similarities start with speed – blinding speed. Teague can be a blur with the ball in his hands, and once harnessed, that type of speed – as evidenced by the way Harris bedeviled the Pistons this season, or the way Aaron Brooks helped an undermanned Houston team push the Lakers to seven games in the second round – can turn solid defenses to porous mush.
But where was that Teague as the season progressed? Wake Forest began a downward spiral with a late January loss to Virginia Tech to start a streak of four losses in six games. The Deacons became downright dysfunctional late in the season, losing their last two games by double digits – to Maryland in the ACC tournament and to whopping underdog Cleveland State in the NCAA tournament.
In those two games, Teague scored a combined 21 points with seven assists and nine turnovers. Around the Wake Forest program, some whispered that Teague and fellow Deacons sophomore James Johnson were more worried about their draft status than team success.
And suddenly, the guy who went from off the radar to the top 10 put his name in the draft with enough trepidation that he chose not to hire an agent and leave open the possibility of returning to Wake Forest for his junior season.
Yet even after Teague suffered a sprained knee in a group workout held in Minnesota last week that was expected to keep him out for at least a week, he indicated that he was leaning toward staying in the draft as long as he was likely to go in the first round.
That’s a pretty safe bet, though whether Teague goes in the lottery or is available when the Pistons pick at No. 15 is anyone’s guess in a draft filled with similar cases of uncertainty.
Would Teague be a good fit for the Pistons, who already have Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum at the point? If they determine that Teague’s ability to slash and wreak havoc on defenses will translate to the NBA, they would be inclined to take a long look at him. Joe Dumars has said he’d like to play Stuckey off of the ball some next season, creating the opening for another guard capable of playing the point.
While Teague’s numbers at Wake Forest – 3.5 assists, 3.4 turnovers a game – indicate he’s a long way from an instinctive or polished playmaker, he has the ability to develop into a dangerous scoring combo guard. Besides Harris, another player to whom Teague has been compared is Dallas’ Jason Terry – capable of playing the point but valued most for his scoring ability.
If Teague turns out as well as Terry, whether he proves himself a legitimate point guard or not, he’d represent extreme value at No. 15.
Selling Points – With players capable of breaking down defenses from any position more valued than ever, Teague has wide appeal. … Very good shooter with great (.441) 3-point range. … Should be one of the NBA’s fastest players with the ball in his hands. … Inconsistencies aside, had dominant games in the ACC.
Buyer Beware – The assist-to-turnover ratio is glaring. … Great in the open court, but against disciplined, half-court, defensive-oriented teams, Teague’s one-speed routine could be easily neutralized unless he displays instincts not yet seen. … Late-season collapse calls toughness into question.
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