The latest hot topic in the land of Kentucky basketball is the issue of highly-touted point guard Marquis Teague and his ridiculous turnovers. Admittedly so, there have been some bad ones, but he’s also just four games in to his freshman season. Kentucky is also 4-0 with Teague playing big minutes in all of those.
While Teague has been struck with the turnover bug early on, he’s also shown some other traits that Kentucky fans should be salivating over. One of Teague’s most impressive statistics is his field goal percentage as well as his three point field goal percentage. Teague is second on the team in field goal percentage at .531, which is far behind Anthony Davis at .724 who has made a living on Teague’s lobs, bunnies around the rim, and dunks. Teague, while he hasn’t shot it much, has shot it very well. He’s made four of the six three-point attempts this season. This aspect of his game was supposed to be a weakness, yet he’s improved his shot and became a more complete player.
There is no reason to think that Teague and Calipari won’t correct this turnover gaffe. It is merely a minor blip on the radar, and if one good thing has come out of it, other’s have been able to run the point in his stead. Lamb and Miller have each ran some point and played the position well, and even Jarrod Polson has logged some minutes as the lead guard. But Teague will eventually be depended on to lead this team to many wins down the road, and there is no reason to believe that he won’t.
It’s unfair, but it is the reality, for Kentucky fans to compare Teague to John Wall and Brandon Knight. It was unfair for Knight to be compared to John Wall. These guys are all their own player and do things differently. Each have their strengths and weaknesses, and it is too early in this season for anyone to write Teague off. With regards to the turnover problems, all three players had 18 turnovers through their first four games of the year. Through four games, Teague has had 11 assists, Wall had an incredible 28, but Knight only had nine.
Another difference in Teague compared to his predecessors is how little he is relied on to score the basketball. Wall and Knight were both had responsibility to be a distributor and scorer. This allowed them to get into the flow of the game more than Teague has been able to. Teague only has 43 points this season (10.8 ppg), while Wall and Knight each had 76 and 75 points respectively. Even though Teague has not had to shoot the ball very much, when he has, he’s done it well. Wall only took seven more field goal attempts than Teague at this point, but went to the free throw line several more times. Wall was a relentless attacker of the basket during his time at Kentucky. Knight had 20 more field goal attempts than Teague at this point last season, and his game was more about his jump shot and perimeter game. Teague has exhibited his ability to do both well, but with the offensive fire power and talent surrounding him, he has not had to be a go-to scorer for this team.
Teague’s energy is apparent on the floor, and he has played great defense so far this season. He has six steals, good for the team lead, and has been a huge part of their success in the full-court press. His enthusiasm and love for the game is evident, and this is where he gets himself in trouble. He has tried to do too much offensively to force the issue. The more that he and his teammates get in sync, his assist to turnover ratio will improve drastically. He is the truest traditional point guard that Calipari has had in his time at Kentucky, and because he is not putting up huge offensive numbers like Wall and Knight were, Teague’s turnovers are getting magnified.
With that being said, Teague needs to focus more and slow his game down. That is not to say he should not be running the fast break and looking for open lanes, but that when they are not there, he can’t put his head down and force himself into one. Good point guards take what they are given and do not force the issue. He has some help.
If there is anyone in the country that can help get a point guard to play at his highest level, it is John Calipari. It just so happens that Teague plays for Calipari at Kentucky. Did you know that? Calipari does not miss on his point guards, and they have all turned out to be superstars. There is no reason, that through four games, to be concerned about Teague’s future. This is a young team that is still learning to play together, and when playing in Calipari’s system, the point guard is asked to do a lot more than any other position on the floor. There is a lot of pressure on Teague, and once he settles in, he will impress. Four games will not in any case cement his legacy as the point guard of this Kentucky basketball team.