Atlanta Hawks: Depth Crucial with Teague and Bazemore Out


The Atlanta Hawks are coming off a victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night in a game where two starter, Jeff Teague and Kent Bazemore, did not play due to injuries.

Jeff Teague has missed the last three games after injuring his ankle last Friday against the Boston Celtics, and Kent Bazemore has not played since Sunday’s game against the Utah Jazz where he rolled his right ankle. Without two of its starters, most teams would find a significant drop-off in offensive and defensive production. Jeff Teague is averaging 17.1 points per game and 6.5 assists, while Kent Bazemore is averaging 12.0 points per game, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest. That’s nearly 30 points per game that is currently sitting on the bench.

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Most clubs would have found it very difficult to replace an All-Star point guard and a rising swingman in their starting lineup for a period of time, but not the Atlanta Hawks. The past two seasons, the Hawks have focused on building the depth of their team in order to prepare for situations like this.

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In the absence of Jeff Teague, Dennis Schroder is starting for the Atlanta Hawks. While Schroder played somewhat carelessly in Tuesday’s loss at Brooklyn, he still is one of the best young point guards in the league, and showed his high ceiling on Wednesday against Sacramento. Schroder finished the game with 22 points and 6 assists in a winning effort. Not many teams have a backup point guard that can step into the starting lineup and produce at the same level that Schroder can.

As Dennis Schroder starts in Jeff Teague’s absence, Shelvin Mack has played admirably backing up the third-year guard from Germany. In 16 minutes against the Kings on Wednesday, Mack scored 6 points and dished out 5 dimes in the Hawks victory. The Atlanta Hawks have two backup point guards that are perfectly capable of running the offense.

Kent Bazemore has blossomed following the departure of DeMarre Carroll in free agency. While many pundits speculated that the Atlanta Hawks would suffer because of Carroll’s exit, quite the opposite has happened. Kent Bazemore is producing at nearly the same level that DeMarre Carroll did last season, and is even shooting more accurately from beyond the arc at 44 percent. Now that he is finally getting significant minutes, Bazemore is showing the Atlanta Hawks and the league what his game is capable of. 

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Losing Bazemore to an ankle injury compounded the absence of Jeff Teague from the lineup; but in typical Atlanta Hawks fashion, Mike Budenholzer possesses the depth on the bench in order to mitigate the loss of production. On Tuesday, Budenholzer decided to go with his “big” lineup, starting Tiago Splitter at center, sliding Al Horford down to power forward and Paul Millsap to small forward. Though the Atlanta Hawks fell to the Nets in heartbreaking fashion, Paul Millsap played exceptionally well on the wing, while Splitter and Horford provide much needed size upfront.

On Wednesday, Budenholzer utilized his wing depth once again, starting Justin Holiday in place of the injured Kent Bazemore. Justin Holiday’s length, athleticism and defensive ability gives the Atlanta Hawks a similar skill-set to that of Bazemore and demonstrates the strength of the team’s player development. Holiday began the game with two consecutive three-pointers, getting the Atlanta Hawks off to a rousing start.

Lamar Patterson also stepped in on Wednesday to contribute. Patterson played 25 minutes while scoring 9 points. Patterson continues to show that when called upon, he plays a fundamentally sound game and active defense. It’s a blessing that Atlanta Hawks bench is as deep as it is.

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Of course, without Jeff Teague and Kent Bazemore, the Atlanta Hawks do lose some production and are not nearly as dangerous as a team. Still though, their absences do not affect them in the same way that it may if another team was missing two starters. This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for the depth of the Atlanta Hawks and how even when two starters are injured, the team still fights every night.