Why Jeff Teague is a better fit in Minnesota than Ricky Rubio

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 12: Jeff Teague /

The Minnesota Timberwolves traded away starting point guard Ricky Rubio and replaced him with Jeff Teague. Moves that should be embraced by Wolves fans.

The Minnesota Timberwolves made two huge moves Friday by trading away Ricky Rubio to the Utah Jazz and signing Jeff Teague to run the point just after the 11:01 p.m. start of free agency. After trading the beloved Rubio, Wolves fans were left wondering who would take over at point guard. Now that they know, the reactions have been mixed.

While I’ve seen positive reactions like the last two tweets, I’ve seen an overwhelming amount of negativity, which makes sense. Rubio has been a fan favorite since he came to the team in 2011 and is an elite distributor from the point. With a squad that boasts Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, someone of Rubio’s ability seemed to be a perfect match.

Instead, Tom Thibodeau and his Timberwolves decided to roll with Jeff Teague. A point guard that averaged a respectable 15.3 points last season, but doesn’t have the elite court vision and flashy passing ability that Rubio has. Additionally, Teague will make an average of 19 million a year, five million more than Rubio, even though he isn’t considered a drastic upgrade over the Spaniard.

Yet, what many Wolves fans aren’t accounting for is what Rubio has cost the team over the years. While his distributing and leadership abilities are great, Rubio’s shooting is a major liability. For his career, he’s shot 37.5 percent from the field and only 31.5 percent from three. He’s also struggled to drive the ball to the basket, making him a rather one dimensional offensive player.

Why is this a bad thing with a roster already full of scoring potential? Well, opposing defenses can better account for the Wolves’ Big-Three and give Rubio open looks as a way to force the ball into his hands. By doing so, they are also making it more difficult for Rubio to feed the ball to other weapons on the court.

On the other hand, Teague has a reliable jump shot, far better than Rubio. In eight seasons, Teague has shot 44.7 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from three. While teams key in on the likes of Butler, Wiggins and Towns, they will also be forced to account for Teague as he is more than capable of knocking down an open jump shot.

Yes, a starting point guard needs to be an effective ball distributor. Let’s not discount Teague’s ability to do so. He averaged a career-high 7.8 assists last season with the Indiana Pacers. Also, Butler is a gifted passer from the wing position. Butler averaged 5.5 assists in 2016, and should see plenty of opportunities to carry the ball up the court. This makes Teague’s ability to shoot even more valuable when playing off the ball.

Rubio would have made phenomenal plays with the Wolves, but Teague is simply more well-rounded, making him a better fit. Teague gives the team a capable shooter that will keep opposing defenses honest. That allows Butler and Wiggins to run the offense while Teague is on the court. Not to mention, he is a solid defender, averaging 1.2 steals in his career.

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If you’re still not convinced that Teague is the better fit, just ask yourself, “Who would you rather have on the court with the game on the line?” In my opinion, I want the player that is a more capable scorer and can hit a shot when left open. While elite passing ability is a bonus, the ability to score is a necessity that gives an offense more flexibility and a better chance to win.

With that, let’s embrace the Timberwolves’ new starting point guard, Wolves fans. While losing a fan favorite in Rubio is tough, Teague gives the team a scorer from the point that has been missing for years.

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