After Joe Johnson was whisked off to Brooklyn for scraps and Devin Harris was brought back in place of Marvin Williams, the Atlanta Hawks installed a freer flowing offense based around their quick guards. Though Devin Harris is not the player he once was in New Jersey, he has done a phenomenal job pushing the pace and keeping opposing defenses on their heels.
Not to be outdone, Jeff Teague has come into his own in recent games. He has posted at least 20 points and 8 assists in 7 of the last games. Despite a slow start to the season, Teague is shooting as well as he did last season, mostly due to his improvement from behind the arc, and has raised his assists per game from 4.9 last season to 7.2 this season. He assists on 35% of the made buckets when he is in the game, up from 24% last season, according to Basketball-Reference’s assists percentage.
It would be odd to say that Harris and Teague simply compliment each other. Although this is true to a degree, as lineups with both have thrived, they clearly push each other by having a similar skill set. Both prefer putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim as opposed to spot up jump shooting. Both also are effective in driving and kicking when the opportunity presents itself. Just last night, the Hawks assisted on 31 of 40 made buckets, or 77.5%.
As a team, Atlanta ranks second in the NBA in assists per game at 24.3 and have had only seven contests where they failed to dish out at least 20. The Hawks are 24-6 when recording 24 or more assists and 9-1 with 30-plus. They have also recorded assists on 65.0% (1312-2020) of their made baskets on the season for best in the league. Additionally, Atlanta ranks seventh in the NBA in assist/turnover ratio (1.62).
The Hawks are averaging 28.8 assists per game over the last eight games and have handed out at least 26 each time, including three games with 30 or more. Atlanta possesses a 3.53 assist/turnover ratio over the last two games. Jeff Teague is averaging 10.1 assists in the last seven games, while Josh Smith is averaging 6.1 assists over the last seven, including a season-high nine against the Miami Heat on February 20.
All these stats point to one central point; the era of “Iso-Joe” is over in Atlanta its offense has been replaced with a selfless team effort night in and night out. Dr. James Naismith would certainly be proud.