There is maybe one rookie each year that makes a legitimate impact on a team. Doing something an average veteran role player could not do. And any time you can make a list affirming something basketball related and LeBron does not make it then you know it is a short list (it might be this and winning championships). A rookie playing a vital part of a playoff team is just rare. Derrick Rose last year, Al Horford the year before, but more than just good performances, those guys found good situations. Rookies can come in and score points and make contributions, but what is clear is that neither the lottery placement nor college success or even outrageous athleticism will make you an impact player. For most NBA rookies, the only way to become that kind of player is time.
No one can expect Jeff Teague to come in and be an impact guy. If the Hawks are counting on Teague as any kind of focal point for season long team goals, then something has gone horribly wrong. Yet just from the simple acknowledgment that Teague is incredibly fast, can jump incredibly high, and has some semblence of a jumper (as Josh Childressy as it looks), there is something to be exciting about. You watch youtube clips and hear player quotes and the juices flow a little naturally. But the dude is a rookie, and he is a rookie that fell to 19th overall for a reason. The Hawks may have lucked out and picked a future starter in this league, but they may have gotten a guy who is indifferent on defense and turnover prone. We don't know, and we probably won't know by the end of this season.
I have really high hopes for Jeff. With the obvious prerequisite of hard work, I think he could be borderline special. He has all the natural tools you could need. But this year? This year I would take flashes of that future alongside the ability to play minutes and get experience without being a huge detriment to the team. We all want Woodson to begin developing him. Teague needs to hold up his end of the bargain, and that is going to take workman's effort. It means focused defense, knowing the offensive sets, and creating and taking high percentage shots. If Teague can keep his aggressiveness and confidence in that kind of bundle, we will not only be able to mark Jeff Teague's first year down as a success, we will have a better team.
Other player previews: Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Mo Evans, Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford