After riding the pine behind the underwhelming stints of Mike Bibby and Kirk Hinrich in Atlanta, Jeff Teague has finally emerged as not only a solid starter, but as someone with the potential to make some serious noise.
So it was a bit of a head scratcher when the front office unloaded their former second overall selection, Marvin Williams, for Devin Harris, a point guard with an almost identical skill set to Teague’s.
And while this clearly has Hawks fans reeling as to who will be running the show, Atlanta’s new general manager and cap space shedding extraordinaire, Danny Ferry, made it abundantly clear in a recent interview with hoopsworld that this team will be Teague’s more than ever.
“He’s still a young player,” Ferry said of Teague. “Last year was the first time where he just played. He got to play, totally green lighted. It will be interesting to see how he matures this year and continues to develop with things. It will be more his team. We don’t have Joe. We don’t have Marvin. It will be more of Jeff’s team than it has ever been. I think he’s capable of stepping in and doing a good job with that.”
Look for Teague to be the clear cut starting point guard in Atlanta’s rotation this season. Not only because he’s already established chemistry with the Hawks front court, but simply on his upside alone.
That said, this doesn’t mean Harris won’t play a pivotal role both on and off the floor. Harris is still among the leagues best when breaking down defenses off the dribble, he
has an explosive first step and has actually continued to steadily increase his assist totals (with some minor fluctuations) since his All-Star campaign with the Nets in 2009.
Harris will more or less immediately bring two things to the table. First, he’ll attract loads of defensive attention when he’s in attacking the rim, which will in turn open up the floor for the Hawks bevy of competent shooters. Second, after eight years in the league, Harris is experienced enough to be a knowledgeable mentor, but still young enough to challenge Teague night in and night out for playing time.
If these two can push each other and build a solid relationship, they could very well become one of the most dynamic one-two point guard punches league wide. After all, when the AJC caught up with Teague to ask him about his thoughts on the Harris trade, he seemed not only as motivated as ever, but ready to make a clear statement on what we can expect from him moving forward.
“I was going to come in confident and ready to play,” he said. “I’m familiar with Coach Drew. I was ready. When the trade happened I saw it as an opportunity to step up and play even better. That’s what I’m going to do.”