Another great mailbag this week and thanks to everyone that sent in questions.
Steve wants to know:
How much of Teague's struggles since his quick start can be attributed to Al being hurt? Is Teague's offensive game that reliant on his pick & roll/pop game with Al? Why hasn't that approach translated as well with Milsap?
The Hawks lost a good shooter and one that thrived in the pick and pop game when they lost Al Horford. No doubt that has affected the entire team and not just Jeff Teague. However, we have seen a different approach as home teams defend Atlanta without Horford on the floor.
Instead of having to worry about the pick man as a shooter, teams have flooded the paint with defenders and that has decreased the room Teague has to operate. Pero Antic was able to replace some of that by knocking down some big shots and earning the respect from the defense.
Additionally Teague's own shooting has really hurt him. His three point percentage is down to 28 percent this season and opposing defenses have been able to duck under the screen because Jeff has been unable to make them pay.
Atlanta's system is built on spreading the floor and providing room for the point guard to operate off of the pick and roll. Combinations of Millsap and Horford or Millsap and Antic have successfully provided Teague space. Lineups of Millsap paired with Brand or Ayon haven't been quite as successful in terms of freeing Jeff.
Again I think there is a lot of factors at work. Winning the rebounding battle and pushing the ball in transition is another thing that I didn't even touch on. I still believe the biggest difference has Jeff's inability to knock down the jumper consistently. If he is shooting 36 percent like last season, then I think opposing defenses would have to change the way they defend him.
Great question and one that deserves a more thorough breakdown that I will try to get to soon.
At this time next year, the Hawks starting point guard will be ______________________.
Another point guard question and one that I touched on in last week's mailbag. I have no reason to believe that Jeff Teague won't be the starting point guard for the Atlanta Hawks at this time next season. The question is a bit tricky since at this time comes after the trade deadline.
I am still very high on Dennis Schröder and I do believe that he will be the point guard that eventually takes over for Jeff Teague. With that said, I thought Jeff's contract was a good value for a starting point guard and that the Hawks could look to move it perhaps after a couple of seasons. Schröder needs to serve as the backup for a season in my opinion before he will be ready to take over.
Now Jeff's name came up in trade discussions so any progress made by Schröder over the summer and next season could speed up the timeline. I just think Jeff is a steady option and I think that is what Mike Budenholzer and Danny Ferry want at this point from their point guard.
Ed G gets straight to the point:
With the team banged up and a West Coast swing coming through, where do you see the Hawks finishing this season?
That's the million dollar question. Trips to the opposite coast are brutal for almost all teams and especially one battling as many injuries as the Hawks. Honestly, I have tempered expectations for this trip. However, I do expect this team to get healthy at some point and when they do they are as good as many of the bottom dweller teams that they are competing with. The schedule also lightens up coming down the stretch.
I think Atlanta is a playoff team. Whether they should be content as the No. 7 or 8 seed is another story. Personally I'd like to avoid those two scenarios altogether.
If the injuries do continue to mount and the slide continues it still may be hard for those teams behind Atlanta to overtake them. Atlanta has lost nine of ten and still have a 3.5 game lead over Detroit. If you look at the current standings, Detroit has lost two in a row, Cleveland and New York three and Boston five. It's not like a lot of teams are breathing down Atlanta's neck just yet.
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