Blackhawks

Why Teague is a fit for the Bulls

807806.png

Why Teague is a fit for the Bulls

I'm not going to try to sell you on a rookie point guard who only spent one year in college and was selected 29th overall in last week's NBA Draft. But what I will tell you is Marquis Teague is not a 'waste of a pick' or a player who can't help the Bulls right now. But it might take some convincing for coach Tom Thibodeau to give this kid a fair shake in practice, considering Thibs isn't exactly a fan of inexperience, especially at the point guard position. But if we can get past our preconceived notions of what a traditional rotation looks like, Teague may play a worthy role here.
First, let's start with the fact that the Bulls, at one point this past season, carried three backup point guards to Derrick Rose, none of whom seemed to be able to carry the load in the end when it mattered most. I've seen enough of the veteran combination of C.J. Watson and John Lucas III in the playoffs to realize that sometimes experience doesn't mean much in crucial situations. I've also seen enough of Kirk Hinrich when he was with the Bulls and elsewhere to shrug at the thought of bringing him back. (I apologize to Hinrich lovers everywhere, but I just don't see it.) So call me crazy, but I actually think Teague is going to play a role next year. He might not be the starting point guard on Opening Night, as the Bulls seem intent on signing a veteran, but he may play himself into a role at some point given the uncertainty of Rose's return date.
Secondly, Teague has talent. It may be somewhat raw right now, but it can be honed and molded into what the Bulls need. I don't see this strictly as a future project. Had Teague stayed in school, he'd be a top ten pick in the draft next year. The way I look at it, Teague is a bargain at No. 29.
Teague's older brother, Jeff, who plays for the Atlanta Hawks, has proven to be a worthy opponent for the Bulls, giving Rose and company fits in the second round of the 2011 Playoffs. Marquis played with his brother many times growing up and, according to their mother Carol, the basketball court is the one place the two get ultra competitive with each other, otherwise they are 'very close.' Marquis has no doubt learned a lot from Jeff, just like he's sure to learn a lot from Rose. Both Teague and Rose were coached by John Calapari. Both have an aggressive, attacking style of play and competitive spirit.
Something tells me they may work well together.
In talking to Thibodeau at the Bulls press conference introducing Teague, I asked him if he sees the game changing, moving away from a traditional style of rotation where you have two guards, two forwards and a center. Could he envision Teague and Rose playing together?
"Absolutely," answered Thibodeau. "You see teams playing two point guards all the time. We may be in a situation where Rose and Teague are on the floor at the same time. The game is changing in that way."
I know what you're thinking. This isn't LeBron and Wade. Rose and Teague are too small to matchup well against bigger opposing lineups. Then again, I sat and watched Jrue Holliday and Lou Williams light up the Bulls in this year's Playoffs while playing at the same time, and those two are fairly undersized. Whatever works at any given time.
The point is, with coaching and development, Teague may be useful to the Bulls next season. He's already following in Rose's footsteps as far as doing what he needs to do to prepare for life in the NBA. His mother tells me that Marquis' older brother Shawn Jr. is going to move in with the Bulls rookie in Chicago to help him adjust to being on his own in a league that can eat you alive if you don't know what you're doing. Much like Derrick's older brother Reggie Rose, Teague will have some one looking out for his best interests so he can focus on improving his game. Being from Indianapolis, Marquis looked up to Rose (Jeff used to play against Derrick in AAU ball) and I have a feeling Rose will embrace the role of mentor well.
While Carol Teague says watching Marquis and Jeff play against each other in the NBA will be "the greatest moment of all," I say watching Rose show Teague the ropes in Chicago may make for some pretty interesting moments as well.
So, keep expectations tempered of course, but don't count Teague out just yet.
My instinct tells me the kid can play.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

crawford_usatoday.jpg
USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Return of the Crow

The Blackhawks got their man back between the pipes after a 10-month layoff due to a concussion. And he looked like same old "Crow."

Crawford stopped 27 of 30 shots for a save percentage of .900. He faced 12 shots and eight scoring chances in the first period, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The biggest save he made was on a Michael Grabner breakaway in the third period, bailing out a turnover in the neutral zone.

"I think I felt better in the second and third," Crawford said. "But they really didn’t get that many opportunities early. It was nice. I think they flipped one in for the first one, so that was kind of good just to get in it and feel one early. We were close in that one all game and we created a lot. I thought [Antti] Raanta played really well.

"It was a tough, tough break at the end. Still felt I should have stopped that one. We were right there, we were creating a lot and gotta try to come up with that one. Just gotta forget about it and worry about the next game."

2. Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews extend point streaks

The hot start continues for the Blackhawks' two leading scorers, both of whom assisted on Erik Gustafsson's goal in the second period to stretch their point streaks to six games. DeBrincat and Toews each have 10 points this season.

3. Overtime streak ends

The Blackhawks made history by forcing five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team has ever done in the four major sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). But they didn't have the comeback magic in them this time.

Entering Thursday, the Blackhawks were 1-0-1 when trailing after two periods. They were 5-28-2 last season for a win percentage of .143.

4. Familiar faces, new places

Five former Blackhawks took the ice for the Coyotes: Vinnie Hinostroza, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Oesterle, Richard Panik and Antti Raanta.

It was Hjalmarsson's first trip back to Chicago since being traded in the 2017 offseason. He received a nice video tribute during the second TV timeout of the first period, which made him very emotional.

"I almost got emotional too seeing his reaction," Toews said. "He's one of those guys you'll never forget what he meant to this locker room. He was a quiet guy in the room but we all know how he played and put everyone else before himself. Pretty cool reaction from the fans too. I think we were all sad to see him leave this locker room, he did a lot of special things and was a massive part of our championship wins. Happy for him to get that reception. It's well-deserved and obviously we miss having him around."

As far as the game, Hjalmarsson logged a team-high 22:18 of ice time and blocked three shots. Oesterle registered a secondary assist on Arizona's first goal, which was its first 5-on-5 of the season.

Hinostroza, who was also part of the Marian Hossa trade over the summer, scored twice in his return to his hometown, beating Crawford with a wrist shot to make it 2-1 in the second period and an empty-netter in the third; his second goal turned out to be the game winner, the fourth of his career and first as a member of the Coyotes.

Panik recorded four shot attempts (three on goal). And Raanta improved to 16-0-3 in his career at the United Center, a remarkable record for any goaltender in any situation.

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

arci.jpg
USA TODAY

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

The Bulls backup point guard situation will be in dire straits all season, with no established veteran behind Kris Dunn. And although the front office has seemingly committed to Cameron Payne as the backup PG (for at least this season), Ryan Arcidiacono showed enough in the season opener to justify giving him meaningful plying time in the rotation. 

Here are the stat lines of Arcidiacono and Cameron Payne from the season opener in Philadelphia:

Arcidiacono: 8 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2-for-3 from the 3-point line

Payne:           0 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound, 0-for-1 from the 3-point line

With so many capable ball handlers and score-first players on the Bulls, point and assist totals aren’t as important as the rebounds and 3-point attempts. To provide the necessary space needed for driving lanes, there has to be openings in the defense caused by defenders sticking close to player they believe are a threat to shoot.

And that is where the problem lies with Payne.

Ryan Arcidiacono—while by no means a dominant scorer—showed a willingness to attack off of the pick-and-roll, even showing off an impressive ball-fake:


Payne, despite coming into the league with the reputation of a scorer, has yet to be aggressive enough to make teams think twice about giving him wide-open on the perimeter. And he is not one to attack the basket with purpose, averaging less than half a free throw per game for his career. Payne's general lack of aggressiveness when on the floor is often times made worse by his occasional poor post entry passes that seem predetermined:

Even if the above play was designed to get the ball to LaVine in the mid-post, Payne chooses a terrible time to make the pass. When he starts the motion to give the ball to LaVine, Ben Simmons is positioned in front of LaVine to force a tougher pass, as rookie Landry Shamet gambles over the backside to get the steal.

Had Payne chose to swing the ball around the perimeter, or give it to Bobby Ports and then get it back, he could have created an opening for the LaVine pass.

Obviously, the Bulls 19-point loss can’t be blamed on solely on Payne, the terrible defense was a group effort, as was the sometimes questionable shot selection. But with the defense already appearing to be perhaps one of the league's worst units, Fred Hoiberg would be wise to put Arcidiacono in more.

Hoiberg is in a crucial year where he needs to show that he can be the head coach of this team when they finally become competitive.

And for Hoiberg to show that type of growth as a coach, he needs to set the tone that minutes are earned not given, something he has already started with his moving of Jabari Parker to the bench. Payne only received 22 minutes, compared to 28 minutes for Arcidiacono, and it is tough to see that changing if things continue on like they did on Thursday night.