Bulls rookie Marquis Teague is showing more confidence as his playing time… (Scott Strazzante/Chicago…)
Marquis Teague has been a bright spot for the Bulls this season. The rookie point guard's numbers—2.6 points and 1.6 assists per game—don't necessarily say that. However, he's played at least 16 minutes in five of the past eight games and looks increasingly confident on the floor.
As the Bulls prepare to take on rival Miami on Friday, RedEye spoke with the 19-year-old about playing against his older brother in the NBA, why he's not in the NFL and learning from Derrick Rose.
What's changed for you basketball-wise since coming into the NBA?
Marquis Teague: I'm just trying to grow as a player. I'm getting better each and every day. I'm making smarter decisions on the court, I'm learning how to finish at the rim better and I'm just trying to get stronger physically.
With Kirk Hinrich being hurt a lot this season, your minutes increase when he's out of the lineup. How has playing extended minutes helped your confidence?
MT: My confidence is always the same whether I play 20 minutes in a game or I don't play at all. … I'm confident in my game and in my abilities so when my number is called, I'll be ready.
You recently had an opportunity to play against your older brother, Jeff, who plays for Atlanta. What was that experience like?
MT: That was fun. I've never played against him in an organized basketball game so to play against him in the NBA, that was a dream come true. We played against each other back in the day when we were younger, but I haven't played him as much since we've been in college and stuff like that.
Jeff said he thought your future might have been in the NFL instead of the NBA.
MT: Yeah, I was nice at football. I was the quarterback. I didn't really throw the ball that much, but I always got in the end zone and scored touchdowns.
Being from Indianapolis, were you a big Colts fan growing up?
MT: Yeah. I'm still a big Colts fan now.
¿What do you think about the Colts making the playoffs with a quarterback in Andrew Luck, who’s a rookie just like yourself?
MT: I think it’s good, especially coming off the season they had last year to now making the playoffs with a rookie quarterback. Andrew Luck is doing his thing.
The Colts' coach, Chuck Pagano, missed most of the season battling cancer. How big do you think it was for the team to overcome that and still have the season they had?
MT: Whenever you lose someone, it's going to be huge, but in that situation, it was even bigger. But they made the most out of it and they were rolling.
So obviously, you're not in the NFL. How did you get into basketball?
MT: I don't know. I guess because I was around it so much that I just started playing. My dad and my brother were always at the gym so I just started playing and I liked it.
What was it like seeing your older brother grow into the player he is now?
MT: It was good. My brother has gotten so much better over the years. He's always been good since he was young, but he's always been kind of underrated. But he used to always just kill people on the court even though he was always under the radar. He’s always been nice and I’ve always thought my brother was one of the best players out there.
What kind of advice has he given you?
MT: He tells me not to waste any days as far as working on myself as an individual. He also tells me to listen to Kirk [Hinrich], and D-Rose and Nate [Robinson] and what they have to say because they've been in the NBA and they know how to run an offense, so who better to learn from than them? ? But he just says to stay on it and make sure that I’m working every day.
Speaking of Derrick Rose, how has he helped you grow as a player?
MT: He helps me just by me watching him. I watch him when we're going through walk-throughs. I like the way he comes off of picks and the way he throws his passes and stuff. I just watch every little thing that he does so I can pick it up.
Has he given you any pointers?
MT: Yeah. … He's always telling to me to just be confident when I'm out on the floor and let my game speak for itself. He tells me not to worry about making any mistakes, just go out there and play.
Bryan Crawford is a RedEye special contributor.
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye Sports' Facebook page.