Minnesota Timberwolves: Will Jeff Teague be the Wolves’ sixth man?

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) /

It’s the time of year when speculating about lineups is the thing to do. Let’s take a look at what the Minnesota Timberwolves’ lineup and rotation might look like.

While it may be safe to assume that veteran point guard Jeff Teague would remain the starter, given his experience (and $19 million price tag), but with a new front office changes could be on the horizon.

In a recent podcast of Raised by Wolves, Danny Cunningham spoke with Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas. He noted that to win in the NBA, teams need multiple great players and mentioned five players in the same sentence that could be great: Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, rookie Jarrett Culver, Robert Covington, and last year’s first-round pick Josh Okogie.

As I’ve noted previously here at Dunking With Wolves, the above-mentioned players could absolutely fit together as a five-man lineup. But the point of this article is that Jeff Teague is not in that lineup, and Rosas didn’t mention him in the interview, either.

There are several reasons for Teague to be moved to the bench.

The biggest reason is defense. Teague isn’t nearly as talented defensively as Josh Okogie, and with the Wolves wanting to play fast, it will be key to create turnovers and fastbreak opportunities.

Listed at 6-foot-2, Teague is too small to guard more than one position and with the emphasis of switching on defense, he will continue to be forced into a lot of mismatches. In a drop coverage scheme, he hasn’t shown the ability to navigate around screens and recover and with the elite talent at point guard the Wolves will face on a nightly basis in the West, playing great defense will be a priority.

Another reason would be point guard depth. With Teague and Shabazz Napier the only natural point guard on the roster, there isn’t enough depth for both to play extended minutes, and especially with Teague’s age and recent injury history. Last season, there were either four or five point guards on the roster, depending on the time of year.

When it comes to Teague’s skillset, it’s a bit of a question mark of how it will match up with the Wolves’ new offensive schemes. Minnesota will emphasize shooting more threes, and Jeff Teague has been a good shooter for much of his career. However, as a point guard who will handle often in the pick-and-roll, anytime the defender goes under the screen it should be a green light to shoot the three, and Teague did not show confidence shooting off the dribble last season.

Teague has mostly been successful as a spot-up shooter, which was one of the bigger question marks in Ricky Rubio’s replacement as Rubio had the same problem. Shabazz Napier might actually be a better option in the pick-and-roll but we’ll have to wait and see as the year wears on.

Finally, somebody needs to lead the bench for 10 to 20 minutes every night. If the Wolves want to be competitive, having a veteran point guard leading the bench will be valuable.

As a scoring point guard, Teague would be the first option with the bench unit and create plays for inexperienced players like Jake Layman and Keita Bates-Diop. And hey, in what is a contract year for Teague, there could be some advantage for him to have more opportunity to score against other team’s reserve units.

Next. Wolves' 3 best lineups for the 2019-20 season. dark

Of course, it’s still likely that Teague starts at point guard on opening night. But don’t be surprised if the Wolves shuffle their starting lineup at some point during the season.