Jeff Teague is growing into the point guard the Atlanta Hawks have been waiting for.
After skipping over Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the 2005 draft, the Hawks have lacked a solid point guard on the roster. They selected Jeff Teague with the 19th pick in the 2009 draft and shoved him toward the end of the bench for the beginning of his career. In his first 2 years in the NBA, he averaged 4.2 points, 1.8 assists, and about 12 minutes per game. His development did not advance much and he continued to be average or sub-par.
After the Hawks traded Mike Bibby for Kirk Hinrich at the 2011 Trade Deadline, Teague began to see more playing time, as Hinrich could also play the 2 if necessary. Once Hinrich was sidelined from the 2nd Round of the 2011 Playoffs with a bum shoulder, Teague stepped up to start every game against the #1 seeded Chicago Bulls. He scored 21 points three separate times that series and provided a defense edge that was needed to challenge MVP Derrick Rose. Hawks fans everywhere, me included, were excited to see what he could do in the 2011-2012 season as a full-time starter.
J-Teague started all 66 games in the lockout-shortened season and averaged 12.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. He shot the ball at a higher percentage (47% up from 43% in 2010-2011) and his stats increased slightly, but they were nothing spectacular when you look at his increase in minutes (20 more minutes per game).
This season he has taken a huge leap as a player. His points and assists per game have each gone up (12.6 to 14.6 and 4.9 to 7.1, respectively) and his free-throw shooting has improved, bringing his average up to 88% at the stripe. Lately, he has been playing at an even higher level. In February he brought his scoring average up to 18.3 points a game and tallied 9.3 assists per game. 18.3 POINTS AND 9.3 ASSISTS! This is remarkable for a player like Jeff. He’s understanding his role as a slasher, distributor, and spot-up shooter. Another reason for his increase in production is his free-throw attempts per game statistic. His aggressiveness in the lane attributed to 4.5 foul shots a game. As we all know by now, aggressive Teague is the best Teague.
With Wednesday night’s 27 point – 11 assist outburst against the Milwaukee Bucks, Teague now has 6 games with 25+ points, 15 games with 20+ points, 14 games with 10+ assists and 12 double-doubles on the year (tied with Brandon Jennigs for 9th-most among point guards). His performance has allowed other members of the Hawks, such as Al Horford and Josh Smith, to raise their game.
Courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau:
Al Horford registered 26 points and 15 rebounds and Jeff Teague chipped in with 27 points and 11 assists in Atlanta’s win over Milwaukee on Wednesday night. Over the last 40 seasons, the Hawks have had only one other game in which they had one player record at least 25 points and 15 rebounds and a teammate contribute at least 25 points and 10 assists. That occurred on January 30, 1993 when Kevin Willis had 33 points and 21 rebounds and Mookie Blaylock chipped in with 30 points and 12 assists in an Atlanta win over Philadelphia.
He has been able to create for himself this season and slice up defenders. Out of his 368 made shots this season, he has made 253 of them unassisted. Of the 115 shots thatwereassisted, 34 of them are thanks to J-Smoove and 26 are from Lil’ Tito. Fun fact: Of Kyle Korver’s 237 made shots this season, 80 of them have been from Teague. Same goes for 122 of Smoove’s shots. There’s no doubt JT has been a major impact on the team’s success this season and he’s shown no intention of slowing down his level of play.
Stay tuned for part 2 of my mini-series on Jeffrey Demarco Teague. This weekend I will be analyzing his movement in-game, his shot selection, his future in Atlanta, and much more.
*Stats courtesy of nba.com/stats*