Go ahead. Say “I told you so.” Two games is a small sample, but second year man Jeff Teague may finally have seen his ship come in. With the trade of Mike Bibby to the Washington Wizards, along with the arrival of veteran point guard Kirk Hinrich, many of us wondered if Jeff Teague’s “role” with the Hawks was going to change or not. So far, it has, and in semi-dramatic fashion.
Here Comes “The Pest”
It was kind of hard sometimes, watching Jeff Teague play in spurts in the early season. He would come onto the court and show that he had another gear beyond everyone else in some games. In others, he played like he knew he would be yanked within two minutes. Where was the consistency? At the same time, the same could be asked of Head Coach Larry Drew, who would compliment Teague after a good game, then inexplicably assign him a DNP or play him in spare, all but useless minutes. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before….
It seemed that Larry Drew had embraced the idea of going with shooting and offense first, rather than speed and harassing defense. Speaking of which, last night’s game against a talented Golden State backcourt was a pretty good testament to how bothersome Teague can be to opposing point guards. It’s not like hasn’t shown flashes of this ability before, but the starting role and extended minutes (he played over 25 this time) were a confirmation of sorts. In case you think this is just a case of home cooking with local media, you need to check out some particular notes on the game from a more national perspective. On a side note, I would encourage everybody to take note of some interesting comments from Al Horford within that same article.
The Chicken vs The Egg…and Promises, Promises
Before we get too excited about the early success of Jeff Teague’s new (and possibly temporary) role, we have to recall that it has only been two games, one of which was a loss (though that loss can’t be blamed on Teague, per se). Can we expect a consistent performance out of him from the defensive end, and to continue to push the pace on offense? Will he defer if he’s in the game with Jamal, or is that simply a lineup issue that is solely Larry Drew’s responsibility? Is the future rotation at point guard forming itself before our very eyes, or is this just another flash in the pan?
Obviously, this calls Larry Drew’s past decisions into question. One quote from the above link may be condemning in some ways, depending on interpretation:
QUOTABLE II: “I’m not concerned about whether he makes or misses shots. . . . The biggest threat [from] him is when he utilizes his speed and his quickness, and when he harasses people defensively. That’s two straight games where I’ve thought he’s done a really good job with his energy.”
– Larry Drew on Teague.
Okay, that’s also two straight games where Teague has had the opportunity to prove that he can do these things that Drew claims he wants, during times in the game when it will actually matter. Did Drew have reason to believe Teague could not do this before? Was the playing time he gave Teague adequate to prove the argument in either direction? Some feel that Larry Drew would have never given Jeff Teague this chance if the trade had not occurred. Drew says he doesn’t care about Teague hitting shots. Something doesn’t seem right here, but is that even important now?
Here is the last and most obvious set of questions – will Larry Drew continue to give Jeff Teague significant minutes during games (as in 20 mpg or more)? Will he revert to using Jamal in tandem with Kirk Hinrich if Teague has rough games?
That remains to be seen, but for now, it seems like Teague’s time may have finally come.
Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest