From the Real MC yesterday in the AJC comes a look at Jeff Teague, his growth and what might be to come this season for the point guard.
In it, Michael Cunningham points out some myths around Larry Drew's perceived lack of confidence in Teague while indirectly identifying a growth opportunity for the third year guard.
Some of you blame Drew for that but, from my seat near Atlanta's bench, I can tell you that Drew regularly barked "Go get it, Jeff!" when Josh Smith, Joe Johnson or Al Horford collected a rebound. Drew wanted the ball in Teague's hands so the Hawks could play faster (at least until it became Joe's show late in games).
Instead, Teague usually would stay on his side of the court and wait for the ball to come his way or make a halfhearted effort to convince his teammate to give up the rock. He's got to demand the ball if it's going to be his show.
For all the hand wringing last season about Drew's usage of Teague, it should be noted that Jeff has started every single Hawks game since Kirk Hinrich got hurt in the Orlando series two seasons ago. 78 tips, 78 starts. It's way more likely that Devin Harris comes off the bench next season than Teague taking a seat there.
Still, this season is an opportunity to see if Teague can step forward and own the team, along with displaying the necessary point guard traits that accompanies a no-doubter floor general. With Larry Drew (allegedly) throwing the shackles off the offense and intending to flex and run more this gives Teague the forum for just such improvements.
As of now, Teague is fairly one-track minded when he has the ball in transition. One of the theories around Josh Smith bringing the ball up quite a bit in transition (along with the above note on deferment) is that teammates know Smith will facilitate and will run the court, whereas Teague has a laser-focus on the basket when he has the ball.
Teague can increase his modest assist rate by: 1) Demanding the ball more in transition 2) Improving his court vision to identify where to go with ball when he does.
This season is pivotal for Teague to show his improvement at the point and his role in the league with his future beyond this season with the Hawks in jeopardy somewhat with the attraction of chasing Chris Paul in free agency to the Hawks next season and his own restricted free agency looming.
It may be that Teague is the proverbial square peg attempting to push himself into the round hole of "pure" point guard. It's clear he wants to go that route, what isn't clear is if he can -- And this season will give him plenty of opportunities to make that plain.