Minnesota Timberwolves: Jeff Teague Season Review

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 09: Jeff Teague #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 09: Jeff Teague #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague had the most disappointing season of his career. As he enters his age-31 season, here’s hoping it isn’t the start of a rapid decline.

It was just two offseasons ago that Jeff Teague was overpaid by then-president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau to be the Minnesota Timberwolves point guard.

The three-year, $57 million deal with a player option on Year Three was always an overpay, but it looks much worse on the heels of a career-low 42 games played for a player who turns 32 this summer.

Teague opted in for the final year of his contract, of course; he’ll never get $19 million per season again, and will happily spend one more year in Minnesota at a premium price tag.

The 2018-19 campaign was a lost one for Teague, who appeared timid and hesitant to shoot early in the season and spent something like two-thirds of the year battling through a series of nagging injuries.

His first missed game was Oct. 31, which was memorable for Derrick Rose‘s 50-point barrage as the Wolves beat the Utah Jazz on Halloween night. Teague missed six games in a row and then played in 15 consecutive before missing another nine. Then, he played in eight consecutive contests before sitting for eight.

Teague then played in 11 of the next 13 games before being shut down for the season in mid-March.

When on the court, Teague averaged just 9.9 field goal attempts per game — his lowest mark since 2010-11, his second season in the league and his last year as a primary bench player. His 19.3 usage rate was his lowest since 2011-12, and his 3-point attempt rate his lowest since 2014-15.

While the increase in assists — his 37.6 percent assist rate was the second-highest of his career and his 8.2 assists per game were easily a career-best — was great, it was also a little bit of a curse in disguise.

Teague was too often hesitant to shoot from the perimeter and often passed up open 3-point attempts for weird floaters in the 10-to-16-foot range, where he struggled mightily. After shooting only 9.2 percent of his career field goal attempts from that range prior to coming to Minnesota, Teague has attempted 15.1 percent of his shots in a Wolves uniform from 10 to 16 feet, and he’s shooting just 42.3 percent on those attempts.

The crazy thing is that Teague is a good 3-point shooter, hitting on 35.6 percent from long-range for his career and 36.8 percent in his first year with the Wolves. It dropped to 33.3 percent this year, but his 3-point shooting is far from bad enough to play as tentatively as Teague did for much of last season.

If Teague is hesitant to attack and only partially interested on defense, he’s not an effective player to have on the floor ahead of the likes of, say, Tyus Jones, who hits restricted free agency this summer.

However, if Teague asserts himself and is willing to shoot open jumpers, he’s still a starting point guard on a playoff-caliber team. Of course, there’s also the staying healthy piece, which will be crucial as he turns 31 years old and enters a contract year.

At a $19 million price tag, expect Teague to be on the Timberwolves next season, unless the team struggles mightily out of the gate and he’s moved at the trade deadline.

Teague and Rose: Optimism in the backcourt. dark. Next

But if the rest of the team stays healthy and new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas fills out the roster nicely, that could be a good thing. A good Jeff Teague is a solid basketball player, and the Wolves are banking on Good Jeff returning in 2019-20.