Greetings! Only two more player previews remain, and we’re knocking one of them out here with Jeff Teague. In case you missed it, be sure to go back and read all of our player looks by clicking here. Let’s go!
Jeff Teague is a bit of a divisive character in the Hawks community, but he also doubles as a very productive player. Last season, Teague reached career-highs in points per game (14.6), assists per game (7.2), free throw attempts (226), and free throw percentage (88.1%), and he did it without the benefit of an increase in minutes (actually fewer per game than in 2011-2012). As those stats (along with a PER jump to 16.82) illustrate, Teague was the best he’s ever been last season, and at 25 years old, there’s no reason to think he can’t improve another step or two.
The 6-foot-2 point guard is incredibly fast, and that makes him one of the best transition players in the entire NBA. Don’t believe me? Consider the fact that Teague ranked 6th in the entire league in transition points last season, and with Josh Smith gone, that number could easily rise this year. In addition to that, Teague’s assist numbers jumped by nearly 50% last year, and while that came with a bump in turnovers (2.9 per game and 17.6%), there was clear development as a distributor.
Of course, it wasn’t all good for Teague, as the turnover rate is officially troubling, and he has other weaknesses. I do think the turnovers will fall (or at least stabilize), but I worry about Teague’s defense (still below-average) and the workload that he may be asked to shoulder in the absence of Smith as a secondary creator. In addition, Teague’s minutes could very well increase now that Larry Drew is gone (unquestionably a good thing for Teague), and that could potentially lead to injury concerns for the 180-pound guard.
Role on the Roster
Teague is the 2nd-most recognizable member of this roster now, and he has the keys to the offense. I wouldn’t characterize him as a “leader” from what we can see (admittedly not much), but it would benefit the team if he “took over” on that end of the court and established himself as a facilitator in a way that we haven’t seen yet.
As I’ve mentioned in various platforms, I believe this is a huge year for Teague. There is danger that he could fall out of favor in a hurry if he plateaus (or gets worse) in a new system, and with Smith gone, the fanbase could be looking for a new scapegoat if things go south.
I think Teague sets (another) career-high in assists this season with around 8 per game, and establishes himself as a top 12-to-15 point guard in the league. Budenholzer’s system (aka the San Antonio model) suits his strengths for the most part, and if he can get the production that comes with easy baskets in transition, that will only help.
Stay tuned for the next installment, and be sure to check out all of our Hawks coverage!