This was Jeff Teague’s last season on his rookie deal. It was also his first season without Joe Johnson to defer to. Even though it was actually only his second season of consistent minutes and starting, big things were expected of Jeff.
Statistically Jeff Teague improved in many areas like points, assists, and PER, but he slipped in others like turnovers and eFG%. The assists were the most impressive gain to me. When Jeff first showed signs of breaking out it was penetrating for his own shot. This year he showed signs that he could actually create opportunities for others. Beyond the increased turnovers, the thing that was troublesome about watching Jeff this year was his inconsistency. Some nights he just didn’t seem engaged. He’d shoot 50% (or 70%) from the field with double digit assists one night and then shoot 25% and have only 3 assists (if any) the next. Bad nights happen but when Teague was off you could see it in how he approached the game. On the good nights there were many games that showed the level of player Jeff could be as he had 10 games in which he logged over 20 points and 10 assists. Only 5 other players matched or bettered that feat last season: LeBron James 13, Tony Parker 12, Chris Paul 11, Deron Williams 11, and Steph Curry 10. That’s pretty impressive company to be in and if the bad outings were reduced you might start hearing some "Star" comments for Jeff.
The playoffs were another story for Jeff. Inconsistent was replaced by just bad. Game 1 he had some offensive success but allowed George Hill to go off. As the series progressed Jeff slipped further and further as his confidence was visibly shaken by the Pacers physical play.
January 16th at home against the Brooklyn Nets was the first return of Joe Johnson to face the Hawks. What we got was Jeff Teague asserting himself as the new sheriff in town. He was 12-18 from the field, 3-5 from deep and 11 assists. Meanwhile Joe was 4-15 FG and 0-4 from deep with only 2 assists while Deron Williams went 5-18, 2-9 from deep and 9 assists. Net result was Jeff 28 points and 11 assists versus the Nets backcourt 27 points and 11 assists.
The playoffs could not have helped Jeff’s free agent buzz. Jeff Teague is a restricted free agent so the odds are that the Hawks retain him (they can match any offer), but enough teams have cap room that someone may get creative and overpay. The two teams that worry me in free agency are the Dallas Mavericks, who don’t appear sold on Darren Collison considering that Mike James took his starting spot late in the year, and the Milwaukee Bucks, who may lose their backcourt in free agency and then count on the familiarity that Larry Drew has with Teague. I really hope he remains a Hawk because I’m very intrigued as to how he’d develop with Coach Bud.