Count on Jeff Teague to Lead Hawks to NBA Finals (video)


The Atlanta Hawks have won the first two games in their first round series against the Brooklyn Nets. Jeff Teague produced in both games, picking up right where he left off last year.

In game one, Teague finished with 17 points and 3 assists. The crafty point guard hurt his hand during the second half of game two, causing him to struggle a little bit from the field after a really hot start. He ended up with 16 points and 6 assists, solid play. He also stayed perfect from the line through the first two games.

The Hawks organization were forced to pull their game one give away t-shirt for fans because they didn’t include Jeff Teague’s name on the shirt. The shirt’s theme was “True Believer” in support of the Hawks upcoming playoff run. It was nothing more than a simple mistake as Teague is beloved in the ATL. But, was there some sort of unintentional irony here?

Teague often times goes unnoticed and underappreciated outside Atlanta. It isn’t unusual to see the media leave his name off the “top 10” point guard lists. Teague welcomes the challenge as he has been an underdog his whole career. The 2015 playoffs presents an opportunity for Teague to define himself.

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  • Since being drafted by the Hawks back in 2009, Teague’s game has steadily improved each year he has been with the team. It hasn’t come easy for Teague, as it’s been his relentless work ethic that’s enabled him to quietly become a premiere player at his position. The 26 year old floor general is now a certified NBA all-star. He’s after something much greater.

    Teague truly took the next step in his journey when Mike Budenhozer’s showed up in Atlanta. Budenhozer came to a hungry Hawks team, bringing a system with him that complimented Teague’s game. The concept was embraced, and in turn, things really started going uphill for the young learning sponge.

    Round one of the 2013/14 playoffs was when it became glaring that Teague was flourishing under Budenholzer’s tutelage. The Hawks took the Pacers to seven games with strong play from Budenholzer’s young jedi. After last year’s early exit, Teague hopes for a different end to the season.

    Enter 2014/15: A New Start

    The 2014/15 Atlanta Hawks have drawn many comparison’s to the 2003/04 Detroit Pistons. This is quite the compliment given that the Pistons beat Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the Finals, taking home the Larry O’Brian trophy, after five games.

    Why was Larry Brown’s group of average Joe’s so good back in 2003-04?

    When comparing the 2003/04 Pistons and the 2014/15 Hawks, the two teams mirror each other in more ways than one. Both squads lacked what would be considered an NBA “superstar”. Instead, you have a group of players committed to defense inside a system that works. It involves sharing the basketball, executing the game’s fundamentals, and guys giving maximum effort along the way. No ego’s.

    This isn’t to suggest the Hawks don’t have talent, because they are loaded with that. There is hard evidence that Budenholzer’s system not only works, but makes everyone better. It should be the coaches job to exploit each athlete’s talents and to maximize their potential by providing an environment that compliments the players.

    Teague and Billups: Are they the Same?

    Jeff Teague and Chauncey Billups share many similarities in terms of skillset, work ethic, and attitude. Both had to work extremely hard at becoming versatile shooters and masters in the pick & roll. Teague has become one of the best when finishing at the rim. His free throw shooting continues to head in the direction of an elite status.

    Jeff Teague now has an opportunity, much like Chauncey Billups did back in 2004, to lead his team to a title. Billups also took home the finals MVP that year. He stayed solid throughout the entire post season and then really turned things up in the championship round.

    Let’s compare Billups 2003/04 regular season in Detroit, against Teague’s 60 win campaign with the new look Atlanta Hawks in 2014/15:

    During the 2003/04 season, Billups wasn’t top 25 in scoring and ranked 15th in assists.  Yet, his play impacted the team far beyond the stat sheet. The 2004 finals MVP didn’t earn the handle “Mr. Bigshot” for nothing. He came up clutch, time and time again.

    When breaking down the two seasons, there are many similarities. In most cases, Billups and Teague have pretty even numbers. Chauncey’s field goal percentage during that particular season was only 39 percent. It sort of paints a misleading picture on paper, as Chauncey was clutch all season long. The clutch part is best represented by his 11.3 regular season win shares, along with the 3.5  win shares he tallied during the championship playoff run.

    The Win Shares advanced stat is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player on both sides of the ball. Chauncey had 7.1 Offensive and 5.2 Defensive Win Shares. The two are then added together to give you a total number of win shares. Chauncey was known throughout his career for his clutch play.

    Jeff Teague is starting to take on the same kind of role. It’s truly his for the taking. tracking stats has Teague with an effective field goal percentage of 54.9 in the 4th quarter throughout 2014/15. The former Wake Forest product now has an opportunity to do some of what Chauncey did in his career.

    The Atlanta starter is no stranger to the big moment as he has already enjoyed some success in the fourth quarter. In 2013, Teague took on one of the leagues bright young stars in Kyrie Irving. That game would lead to a double-overtime win, finishing in spectacular basketball fashion.

    The often forgotten Hawks point guard got a taste of the big moment when he hit a game winning shot during the dying seconds of the second overtime frame. Teague sunk the Cavs with an epic game winner that made noise around the league. (as seen in the video below)

    This wasn’t the only thrilling moment for number zero. He also hit another monstrous shot. Teague also drilled a game tying three pointer with four seconds left after the first over time. You can check out all of his handiwork from that night in an article that USA today sports released on December 26th, 2013.

    Teague posted an incredible stat line that December night against Kyrie, accumulating 34 points, 14 assists, and 3 steals. Teague outplayed Uncle Drew and the Hawks won as a direct result of his clutch play down the stretch.

    As much as the Hawks are credited for unselfish play, there are times when the team needs a leader, a guy that can put the team on his back and go to work. Last year, in the NBA Finals, that was Khawi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard went on to win the 2014 NBA finals MVP. Can Jeff Teague be the guy that can lead the Hawks team to the promised land? Only time will tell.

    Teague has an opportunity to finally obtain the respect of a champion, should he rise to the occasion. It isn’t going to be easy, as nothing in his career has been. Now in his sixth season as a professional, the Indiana native is primed and ready to put a stamp on this league. As good as the Hawks work together as a team, a time will come when they need a leader. The time for Jeff Teague is now.

    Next: Real test for the Atlanta Hawks starts now