Jeff Teague has improved as the season has progressed

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 21: Jeff Teague. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 21: Jeff Teague. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After signing a big contract in the offseason, Jeff Teague has progressed significantly as the season has gone on.

Jeff Teague had a lot of expectations when signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason.

Signing Teague was the reason that fan-favorite Ricky Rubio was traded just hours before the Wolves were linked to Teague. The one-time All-Star signed a three-year, $57 million contract shortly after free agency opened last summer.

Of course, it was the same offseason that Minnesota saw many new faces, including Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Jamal Crawford and a few others.The Timberwolves were fed up with losing, which was the driving force in getting these big name veterans.

For a long time now, Minnesota has left a bad taste in the mouth of their fans when it comes to the point guard position. As everyone will recall, the Wolves could have drafted Stephen Curry, but instead drafted Johnny Flynn and Rubio. Both were viewed as disappointing — Flynn a lot more so, and for obvious reasons.

It’s been a long time since Minnesota could say they’ve had a future point guard piece. Due to Teague already being 29 years old, it would be hard to imagine that he truly has many great years ahead of him. It’s assumed that for now he’s a solid option at the one position, but will not likely not be in their long-term plans.

During the first half of the season, he was was faced with a lot of criticism. A lot of people (including myself) questioned if he was a good enough fit because of his poor defensive outings and tendency to hold the ball — far more than Rubio, at least. In today’s NBA, having a scoring point guard is the norm and need.

Related Story: Will Playoff Derrick Rose return to the Wolves?

However, when you have players like Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Butler on your team, it almost felt as if it would be better to have a pass-first point guard on the floor.

In the first half of the season, Teague was showing everyone why he wasn’t the best fit for this team. However, as time went on and more experience/chemistry built, so did his performance.

  • Pre All-Star Break: 13.1 PPG, 44.4 FG%, 37.9 3P%, 2.9 RPG, 7.1 APG, 1.4 SPG. 0.4 BPG
  • Post All-Star Break: 17.0 PPG, 44.9 FG%, 34.7 3P%, 3.3 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Post All-Star break, he increased his free throw attempts by 1.8 per game and increased his free throw percentage to 89.4. His rise in points per game rose significantly because of the injury that Butler sustained at the end of February. His rise in point production, along with a small decrease in assist numbers, showed how valuable he was to this team.

It would be hard to see Minnesota winning that many games without a scoring point guard. On nights where Towns or Wiggins had a game struggling on offense, Teague was right there to pick-up the slack.

Numerous times has Teague been a key contributor to the Wolves winning games. In a game against the Los Angeles Clippers back in January, Butler was held out because of a sore knee and it was Teague and Wiggins who poured it on offensively. Teague added 30 points and shot 50 percent from the field, including 16-for-17 on free throws.

In the crucial month of April, he averaged 20.3 points per game across four game — a small sample size, of course, but it proved to be valuable when looking at the Wolves situation.

Through three playoff games, Teague has been a valuable scorer and shooter. Despite an ugly Game 2 from nearly every player in a Wolves uniform, he’s averaging 15.3 points (53.3 field goal percentage, 40.0 3-point percentage) 4.3 rebounds. 5.7 assists, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.

In Game 1, he was one rebound and two assists away from a triple-double. And in Game 3, Teague roasted Chris Paul more than once off the dribble, converted an and-one in a critical moment, and knocked down multiple big-time 3-pointers.

Next: Is Playoff Andrew Wiggins the new Andrew Wiggins?

Teague’s success has been key to Minnesota making the playoffs this season and ending the NBA’s longest drought. They’ll need him to continue that success if they want a shot at winning the series against the Houston Rockets.