ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 30: Jeff Teague(notes) #0 of the Atlanta Hawks dunks against the Orlando Magic during the game on January 30, 2010 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

Hawks Bloggers Debate: Should Jeff Teague be starting?

Over the last couple of days Peachtree Hoops and Hawkstr8talk of the Hawks blogosphere have had a very good ongoing debate over the merits of starting Jeff Teague over Mike Bibby. Both have raised some excellent points and defended their position well.

I am guessing that this all started back on Feb 26th with this post over at Hawkstr8talk about why he thought Mo Evans and Jeff Teague should be starting over Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby.

Peachtree Hoops says:

Mike Bibby sets up the offense

It may not be all clear and easy to see, but Bibby does make sure people are where they are suppose to be on the court.

To start the game though, Joe Johnson is going to curl off a screen, both bigs are going to get a few touches down low, and Bibby is going to hit a baseline jumper. Offensive sets are run. And we may not like those sets. We may find them unimaginative, but they are the sets, and Teague has shown little ability to get the Hawks into them.

The offense is not set up for a slashing and dishing point guard.

Almost once a game, I have seen Horford or Crawford waive Teague in the direction he is suppose to be. He just does not have the offense down pat.

Here is Hawkstr8talk’s reply:

A point guard who doesn’t bring up the ball more than 70% of the time is not setting up an offense. There’s a huge difference between he’s set up a play occasionally vs. our point guard sets up the offense.

The #1 play for the Hawks is the isolation play, not to be confused with just passing until someone decides to do something that allows us a shot opportunity. That isn’t an offense that depends on a point guard.

Now, there is validity to the fact that Teague is sometimes not spacing well and the starters have to help him with that – well, that happens when you DON’T play with the starters. Which is the point – having him play with the starters would solve that quickly.

Good stuff here guys and I actually agree with both of you on parts of it. In fact I even commented that I would love to see the Hawks with a strong point guard like a Chauncey Billups so that during the fourth quarter he would get us into some kind of set when our offense stalled. I have to agree that to the naked eye it doesn’t appear that having a true point guard is very important in our offense. Not when the last two games Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson have ran the offense in the fourth quarter with neither Bibby nor Teague on the floor.

The biggest thing here is when it comes to Teague he hasn’t played enough with the starters or had a defined role to see what he is capable of. Even during his stints in the second quarter Jamal will dominate the ball and force Teague to play more like an off guard.

Peachtree Hoops:

Change of pace

Used well, Teague can come off the bench and provide a spark. He can push the pace. He can change the tempo. He can get open shots for guys that cannot create as easily as the starters. Mike Bibby can do none of those things.

Hawkstr8talk:

Well, since we aren’t running when Teague comes into the game now, I’m not sure what the point is. I could agree with Peachtree Hoops if the bench came in and ran, but that doesn’t happen. Teague doesn’t play enough now to make the argument about changing pace. It’s not what he does, it’s what he could do – he basically brings up the ball and passes to Jamal and we run the offense.

Again this is my biggest fault with Woodson in regards to Teague. I feel like he should have went to him and gave him a role, something to concentrate on. Teague could have been the guy that came in and gave us a spark. Whether it was to try and push the pace on offense or to lock down the opposing point guard. He could have had the Mario West role. I feel like Teague is every bit as good a defender or definitely has the potential to be. He just doesn’t have the reputation. Its much easier to play when you know what your job is. If the Hawks have in the back of their minds that Jeff Teague might ever start for this team then they should be getting him on the floor now.

Peachtree Hoops:

The problem

Mike Bibby is in a shooting slump.

No, Bibby is just not hitting open jumpers as much as he has in the past. It may be partly age, but I think it is more a slump.

On the other side of things, Jeff Teague is a rookie. He has proved nothing. Most of that is Woody’s fault, but putting him into the starting lineup at this point is a pretty big unknown. And that is just on the basketball court. Off the court, benching one of your veteran’s can have real effects on the team’s chemistry on and off the court. Without any real sense of what would happen at all, I would much rather Teague get minutes with the first team in other parts of the game first. So far this season, he has had next to zero.

Hawkstr8talk:

I have already acknowledged this point, so I’ll just use this time to reiterate that starting Jeff doesn’t make him play more than 15-20 minutes. If he’s playing well, he stays. If not, the veteran Bibby plays more or Jamal and Joe handle more of the load. So, let’s not confuse start Teague with play Teague 35 minutes a game.

Again we are just reiterating the fact that Teague needs a defined role on this team. I tend to agree with Peachtree Hoops side that I think Bibby needs to start but Teague has to play. I would make the case that in the long term future of the Hawks that Teague is probably the most important player on the Hawks bench. Woodson needs to play to Teague’s strengths. He at this point might not be the best half court defender but let him harass the opposing point guard up the court.  There is a multitude of things that Teague can do and do well if he was utilized.The bad thing is that this is all pretty much just idle debate. With the season winding down I don’t look to see Teague’s role increase until the Hawks have clinched their seed in the East. After that barring injury he probably will be hardly heard from in the playoffs.

Awesome debate from both of you guys and I really enjoyed reading it.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Jeff Teague Mike Bibby

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