Inspecting our expectations for Jeff Teague

Hoopinion has done an invaluable service by delving deep into the stat world to look at what we should expect from Jeff Teague in his rookie year. It is kind of a crushing blow to my wave of mostly unrealistic optimism that Teague is going to come in and provide a spark of athleticism and talent off the bench next season.

As Bret points out so well, non lottery point guards and guards do not set the league on fire in their first year.

Admittedly, there's nothing groundbreaking to be learned about Jeff Teague's future from either the collective data or individual cases but I think it's valuable to establish the historical range of performance against which one can expect to evaluate his rookie season and for the reminder that his rookie season will probably not clearly establish the path of his career.

He has the stats to back it up, and it makes sense. Jeff Teague may end up great or descent or serviceable. It just probably won't be in his first year.

Yet oh how I want to explain how Teague may be different or at least how term "successful" can be different with him. And of course I confess to responding to protect my broken half full glass more than anything else, but I don't know if it is apt to compare Royal Ivey and Salim Stoudmire's transition to that of Teague's (not that Bret did this, he clearly centers his analysis on all 23 players that meet the criteria). 

The very legitimate and pertinent point can be made that the same coach who controlled the minutes of Royal and Salim will have sway over Teague's first year development.

But what I think must be taken into account as much as skill set, stats, minutes, and history is the role a player has on the team, and how well that role is defined.

Mario Chalmers was the starting point guard for the Heat last year. That was his role and Miami stayed with it through thick and thin. Certainly, you could compare the stats of Chalmers and predict the success of Teague, but Teague will not be the starting point guard next season and will not be in a position to earn that role. If Jeff was coming in and starting from day one and people were calling for conference championship, they would need to read Bret's post and go out back and smoke a cigarette or seven.

But roles matter. Especially when defining success. To look at the three Hawks examples, Ivey was a stop gap, Salim was a "you can shoot, lets see if you can get plugged in randomly to spark us," and Acie was a "we have to draft you but now we have four point guards and our coach doesn't really like you."

As I mentioned before, Rick Sund seems to have a clear plan with Teague. Bibby signed a three year deal, Crawford has two years left, and knowing this Sund took Teague. It all happened in the same summer. This is not an Acie Law situation where "wow we were not expecting two draft picks but we now have them." It seems he is prepared to groom Jeff for a starting role.

So how many minutes he plays is important and what he does with those minutes is important, but I never had any inclination that Teague would average 28 minutes and 17 points. But his season can still be successful. Teague becomes a part of a team that has a plan for him. Not many mid to late first rounders have that from day one.

10-14 minutes a game by Teague might not make or break the Hawks this season (I hope it doesn't), but it is enough to mark it as successful. In the end, I think allowing Teague to play 30 minutes a game would require the need for tempered expectations. But in a role of two bursts a game, Teague has the athleticism and skill to provide needed depth and excitement while working toward the longer term goal of starter for the Hawks.

Will Teague be communicated properly to relish such a role? Will he buy into such a role even if he is? Is Teague a good enough player to play in the NBA? I don't know the answers to these questions. He could be a diamond in the rough or a complete bust and either way would make stats, draft position, and random conjectures all but irrelevant.

But if Teague does indeed have the ceiling of a quality NBA starter and if fans, coaches and players can understand where the Hawks plan for the point guard position, I think 13 minutes a game and a PER of 12 or 13 is a success for Jeff Teague's rookie season.

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