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Can Marquis Teague match his brother's rise?

Kevin C. Cox

Marquis Teague will become a Net on Tuesday.  Once the NBA's offices are open for business after a three day holiday, the Nets and Bulls will get on a conference call and formalize the trade agreed to over the weekend: Teague for Toko Shengelia.

The weekend's two deals --the other that sends Tyshawn Taylor to New Orleans--  were made to clear a roster spot, save a little money (by Prokhorov standards) in luxury taxes and provide the Nets with some point guard insurance. With Jason Kidd liking what he's seen in a two-point guard lineup --and not liking Taylor-- the Nets needed a third PG.  Teague also fits another need for the Nets. He is young, 20, and he is athletic, a 40.5" max vertical.

Most pundits seem willing to dismiss Teague after a year and a half under Tom Thibodeau.  Bulls fans considered him a bust. A first round pick two years ago, he never fulfilled his promise.

Still, there is a precedent out there that has to give the Nets and their fans some hope: Teague's brother, Jeff, the starting point guard on the Hawks, is now a solid NBA point guard who like his brother was considered a bust his first two years in the NBA.  As Hoops Addict stated at the end of last season, "Jeff Teague’s first two seasons in the NBA were an unequivocal bust."  In fact, it could be said he was a bigger bust than Marquis. He was taken higher in the 2009 draft (#19) than Marquis was taken three years later (#29). Jeff was also three years older, at 22, in his rookie year with Atlanta. He had played three years at Wake Forest to Marquis' one at Kentucky.

In fact, Jeff's first year numbers were as bad or worse than Marquis' rookie season.  Jeff's PER was a 4.7: Marquis's a 6.0. Both shot under 40 percent overall and under 25 percent from three. Although Marquis' 17.4 percent was eye-popping, Jeff's didn't offer much more hope, at 21.5 percent. Neither averaged two assists in their first year. Marquis didn't play badly in Game 7 of the playoffs vs. the Nets. With Kirk Hinrich injured, he played 14 minutes, shot 2-of-5, and handed out three assists without a turnover.

In their second years, Marquis regressed while Jeff improved, but not my much. it wasn't until his third year, when he got a chance to run the team did he start to fulfill his promise.  Now, Jeff Teague is critical to Atlanta's success. He's averaging 16.6 points and 7.6 assists.  His three point shooting has tailed off this year after two solid years.

Can his brother Marquis do the same?  It won't be easy.  He's not likely to get the chance his brother got. He faces a more daunting task considering Deron Williams will be around. Shaun Livingston's status is a bit more uncertain. He becomes a free agent this summer and the Nets salary issues could limit what they will pay him.

The Nets have committed to him next season and he is a better man-to-man defender at this stage than his brother was. He's more athletic and slightly faster than Jeff, who is one of the league's top speedsters. So far, his shot doesn't match his brothers, but if there's one coach in the NBA who knows about how a jump shot can be improved over time, it's Kidd.

Of course, comparisons between brothers aren't perfect, even with twins like the Lopez brothers. But the Nets have to hope that Marquis --and Mason Plumlee-- can match their older brother's improvement.  As we've written, the Nets will have to get younger --and lucky-- to make up for all those lost draft picks. Teague could be the first test.