Atlanta Hawks: On Drew and Teague

The Hawks can use Teague's skills but he can't get regular minutes. (Benny Sieu / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Hawks can use Teague's skills but he can't get regular minutes. (Benny Sieu / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Back on Dec. 16, before the Hawks played the Celtics at TD Garden, I had a conversation with L.D. about his team’s pick-and-roll defense. I noted that, according to Synergy Sports Technology, his team ranked next-to-last in the league at defending pick-and-roll ballhandlers (they now rank 28th, allowing .91 points per possession).

(Synergy counts only those times when the screen-roll ballhandler is “responsible for the ending action which can be a shot attempt, turnover or drawing a foul that results in free throws.” So it does not count the times when the initial pick-and-roll leads to other actions as the Hawks scramble. Notably, the Hawks rank first in the league at defending the roll man, allowing only .82 points per possession. I ‘m thinking this is what is known as “The Josh Smith effect.”)

So I asked L.D. how the Hawks could ever hope to be effective defending the perimeter given the guys who are playing the most minutes:

“Looking at our personnel, a lot of it involves Mike. Teams know that. We try and disguise some things to not have him as involved. He is at the stage of his career where it is tough for him to defend pick-and-rolls and teams know that. We try to do some things to disguise it, try to manipulate it. He is not the only one. We have just got guys with the initial impact of the ball, they have a hard time with it. We just try to manipulate it a little bit to make it a little bit easier for him. It’s something we will continue to work at.”

This naturally led to a question about Teague. I let L.D. know I was not trying to suggest that Teague is a cure-all for the team’s woes defending the pick-and-roll but certainly he is the best option the Hawks have right now. He has the potential to become even better at it as he gains experience and sees more situations.

Is it that L.D. believes Teague is giving up too much offensively in relation to Bibby and Jamal to give Teague more minutes?

“I’m trying to find that balance. You give up certain things with certain guys. Teague has the speed, the quickness, the footspeed to defend the pick-and-roll. But you give up things in other areas with him on the floor. He vs. Mike on the floor, obviously Mike is a shotmaker and you give that up. It’s tick for tack. You try to get both guys better in areas where they are deficient. You try to get Mike better at defending the pick-and-rolls, We have got to manipulate it a little bit and help him out as much as you can with that. Teague, because he does a pretty good job with it, we constantly try to improve his shot and keep him in an attack mode offensively and get to the basket and finishing. You give up something on one end, you give up something else at the other.”

This is a good time to compare Teague’s production and efficiency in 2009-10 to this season so far.

Teague’s production per 36 minutes is better in nearly every category. His effective field-goal percentage, true-shooting percentage, assist percentage, rebound percentage and block percentage are all improved. His turnover percentage is up slightly. Teague’s usage percentage is down even as his minutes are up. The numbers may not look as good if he were to get even more minutes, and chances are he will never be an offensive threat like Bibby and Jamal, but Teague is not killing the Hawks offensively and there are signs he’s getting better.

Back to Boston: Hours after that conversation with L.D., Teague had probably his best game of the season. Afterward, Teague talked about taking L.D.’s message to heart and focusing on being aggressive and assertive. L.D. praised Teague’s play: “That’s what I am looking for. I need that.” Drew said this in a way that made me think that he really does want Teague to become a permanent fixture in the rotation and believes he can do it.

And so what happened from there? Teague played 15 solid minutes in the next game against Charlotte, then seven minutes at New Jersey and eight vs. Orlando. Teague got 18 minutes against Cleveland, then a DNP-CD against New Orleans. Jamal sat out all of those games except New Orleans, and there are some good pick-and-roll teams among that group. Yet Teague still couldn’t get consistent minutes.

That led to last night at Milwaukee. Before the game I reminded L.D. of our conversation at Boston and asked him if he still thought Teague was too much of a liability offensively in relation to Jamal and Bibby to warrant a permanent spot in the rotation:

“He certainly brings the speed aspect to what we do and we definitely need that. When he is playing with that kind of reckless abandonment with his speed, we are effective. He has to know when to punch it and when to back off. Certainly his speed is something we don’t have, and hopefully he will continue to learn and continue to get better in that area because that is something we desperately need from him. I didn’t play him last night but certainly looking to get him in there tonight, especially against Boykins.”

And then Drew did get Teague in there, and Teague had another fine game while playing 18 minutes. Afterward Teague talked about Lester Conner staying in his ear and encouraging him to impact the game. Drew praised Teague’s performance.

So what will all this mean for Teague from here on out? Based on what’s happened so far, it’s hard to say. The whole thing has been a bit confusing. As an organization the Hawks talked all summer about the importance of Teague becoming a major contributor. Then he got hurt in training camp and fell behind. It seems he’s been playing catch-up ever since and hasn’t always been afforded the opportunity to work his way through rough stretches or rewarded for his good performances.

Certainly L.D. has given Teague more opportunities than his predecessor on the bench. But I think a fair interpretation of events is that, despite L.D.’s stated desire to mold the Hawks into a defensive team and develop his young players, his decisions in this matter reflect a different tact. (Shoot, it makes me wonder how willing he’d be to stick with the promising “big” lineup if Twin were a young guy. Would it just mean more Etan Thomas?)

Since L.D.’s actions with Teague don’t always match his words, I can only conclude that he is reluctant to reduce minutes for his two veteran “shotmakers” with defensive deficiencies for the sake of finding more playing time for his most physically-gifted perimeter defender. This is happening even though L.D. says the team needs Teague’s skill set, Teague has shown signs of improving offensively and he is key to both the team’s fortunes this season and in the future.

Drew has said that because Jamal, Bibby and Teague have such contrasting strengths and weaknesses he’s always thinking about making adjustments on the fly. He doesn’t have one guard who can do it all so he’s trying to match his available pieces to situations. But so far Teague seems to be getting lost in that equation. Stay tuned, blog people.

MC

196 comments Add your comment

Melvin

December 28th, 2010
4:43 pm

MC, you nail this one on the head. LD says one thing and does another just like his predecessor, Woody. It’s easy to see they prefer to play Bibby/Jamal over the Teague. Although both guys have a better jumpshot than Teague, they both give up probably just as many points that they score. I would prefer to have Teague play more mins and gain experience b/c he’s probably (and will become) better in just about every other aspect of the game.

doc

December 28th, 2010
4:48 pm

nice mc, nice.

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
4:51 pm

Has any team ever went to the Finals with a starting PG as limited defensively as Bibby or JC1 is?

lewis

December 28th, 2010
4:56 pm

fine blogging mc

i’d rather have teague attempt dunks, floaters and layups while he works on his jumper than Bibby and Jamal hoisting jumpers together, ruining the flow of the offense and not changing the pace of the game or playing D.

I mean, if he sucks, bench him. But i think he’s deserved a shot to at least break the rotation. What are Mo, Zaza and others doing that he cannot?

Coach D

December 28th, 2010
4:56 pm

Awesome blog, M.C. I understand L.D. wanting to get W’s, but at what cost to Teague’s confidence and development? Today, Bibby & Crawford will give the Hawks more w’s, “tomorrow” they’ll be gone and we’ll be left scratching our heads looking for another NBA team to cheer.
In my opinion L.D. needs to give Teague the “sink or swim” treatment.

Brett

December 28th, 2010
4:57 pm

what difference will a few loses make, we are going to be a 4,5,6 seed anyway? play this guy and see if he is the deal or not. bibby’s days are numbered. let’s be real, this season is a transition year (again) so we might as well work for the future. let’s season the kid up or let him prove he isn’t the answer. Sund needs to demand this. LD like Woody is playing for today. Guys look who is ahead of us. We ain’t overcoming Miami or Boston.

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
4:57 pm

Really nice blog piece MC. I actually don’t think Teague has much of a future in the league beyond being a back-up pg, but even that is iffy given that he doesn’t have one particular facet of his game that can be specialized. He did look good against the Bucks, but there aren’t many Boykins in the league.
I do like the “big” line-up, if for nothing else than making Marvin play with a chip on his shoulder. I wonder in the long run if Josh at the 3 doesn’t hurt his defense. I don’t mind him guarding the wing and he certainly can take advantage on the offensive end, but will his paint presence become less?

JeJe

December 28th, 2010
5:01 pm

LD has no idea what he’s talking about.

He tries to mask all the complaints by making incredibly vague comments, hoping we’ll bite on them

WTF does “We try and disguise some things to not have him as involved.” in regards to Bibby? The dude sucks. He’s old, he’s fat as hell (HE DOES NOT USE HIS MUSCULARITY OR SIZE TO HIS ADVANTAGE. IT HAS RESULTED IN HIS DOWNFALL)

GET MONTA ELLIS

rusty

December 28th, 2010
5:01 pm

Ld needs to get his head out of his butt & start giving more time to jt,mb can’t play more than 25 min a game jt s game is so more in tune with this team than mb. Why the he’ll is he not playing Wilkins & jc2. He needs to start giving jc2 some burn. He has talent right now that moe never had.god darn it ,play him now & the team will be better.

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
5:02 pm

Ramon- the Bulls had BJ Armstrong, John Paxon and Steve Kerr.

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
5:04 pm

MC, thank you for calling LD out. Have you ever asked LD what is his REALISTIC goal for this season with this team, what is he trying to accomplish?

Also, I don’t recall any player in the league being a better defender at the age of 32 than they were in their prime. I don’t see how LD expects Bibby or Crawford to improve defensively, when they’ve BOTH had multiple coaches and never responded to either defensively. Even in the normal line up, Horford and Josh don’t pick up many fouls guarding their men. They normally pick up the fouls AFTER the dribble penetration by the opposing back court.

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
5:08 pm

It is incredible that the bench guys/ scrubs/ low round draft picks are all these All Stars just waiting to happen if only they got more “burn”, or that Rick Sund doesn’t just pluck a star in the making rookie off another team right now. I mean why not just get Tony Parker for Jeff Teague play Damian at the 2 and Jordan Crawford at the 3 and we will win 60+ games and make the finals.

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
5:08 pm

Daniel, the Bulls didn’t have them starting. Remember the last years of the Bulls were Harper and MJ in the back court. And Armstrong didn’t start til 92-93, and then Armstrong was one of the quickest players in the East then also.

JeJe

December 28th, 2010
5:10 pm

Teague must really suck in practice. There’s no other reason that mini-me washed up lard should still be a starter in this league.

Bottom 3 starting PG
Worst defensive PG in NBA

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
5:12 pm

Ramon- I totally agree with your last post. LD has never really made any statements regarding his goals. He never took any responsibility of the last staff’s failure (despite being the head assistant). He just threw out a “new” motion offense and a bunch of empty words. We still have issues with “starting” flat. Ball movement has improved more from Joe’s elbow surgery than anything else. I will say that Josh seems happier and more focused and Twin has been much more significant than under Woody. But, dang don’t those improvements seem like something that should be made by I don’t know an ASSISTANT COACH?

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
5:12 pm

Daniel, no one is saying that. But your bench players are there for situational purposes. When you’re playing a quick point guard, there’s NO excuse aside from injury not to give your best defensive PG at least 3 minutes of playing time to see if he can stay in front of the player. Also who can’t see in the last 3 weeks Wilkins played more efficiently than Mo Evans? Name one starting PG in the East that you would take Bibby over on DEFENSE. Now name five starting PGs in the East who penetrates worse than Bibby.

JeJe

December 28th, 2010
5:13 pm

Playing Bibby big minutes on Chris Paul.

That’s like putting Matt Freije in High School on Michael Jordan in his prime

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
5:15 pm

Lol, Daniel, I would think so. Collins is better because he’s actually in shape. Josh is happier because Woody was just a prick, lol. But as you said the same problems still exist. The first and fourth quarters still remain the Hawks worst statistical quarters. Almost as if the Hawks need to scrimmage 5 minutes before every game to already have their blood going.

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
5:15 pm

Ramon- definitely not counting the Harper years (obviously, he was great). But, BJ did start, and Paxon and Kerr were very significant (and starters occasionally). Obviously, it helps that you have Jordan and Pippen to control the ball and the perimeter defense. But, BJ Armstrong would be a completely forgettable NBA pg (no defense) if he were on another team.

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
5:16 pm

Jeje, I don’t know if its Teague really sucks in practice. Because if you look at the players (Al, Josh, Marvin) they seem to light up when Teague comes in the game.

JeJe

December 28th, 2010
5:16 pm

Bibby should not play over 18 mpg on any team in this league

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
5:18 pm

Daniel, didn’t Pippen and MJ always guard the opposing PG?

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
5:19 pm

But you’re right, he wasn’t a good defender. I really couldn’t think of a team that had a starting PG that terrible, but thanks.

Samuel

December 28th, 2010
5:22 pm

“Since L.D.’s actions with Teague don’t always match his words”, translation. LD lies a lot.

Rev in Tampa

December 28th, 2010
5:25 pm

Enter your comments here

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
5:27 pm

Ramon- I am not say Bibby is the answer at the PG position, but this team is not constructed to be PG driven anyway with ball handlers and playmakers all over the floor (Remember the “motion offense”). The real remaining issue is that we don’t have a true A level player at any position. We have a couple of B+ (Horford/ Joe (?) a B with A flashes but C flashes too (Smith), a slightly better than average bench. A coach who is clearly in over his head, and a team who is settling into being solidly decent but never great. Bibby or Teague are not going to change any of those issues. I know we all wish Teague would become Rondo, but I can wish my Camry was and Audi A6 but it ain’t going to happen.

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
5:28 pm

I meant I am not saying…

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
5:32 pm

Samuel- that is definitely one way to take it. Or it could be LD doesn’t really have a plan and just goes with it on the fly. Or LD doesn’t have a big picture direction. Or LD is like the Wizard of OZ, look at the shiny “motion offense” don’t look at how the team responds to me or my decisions.

Ramon- Woody may have been a prick (but the team was better with him as HC, YES! I said it.)
Not saying I want Woody back, but Larry Drew? c’mon man he didn’t even do a good job as an assistant.

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
5:34 pm

Daniel, I’ll agree Woody was a better head coach. But the problem is, I don’t believe Woody OR LD were the best available coach for THIS job.

Rev in Tampa

December 28th, 2010
5:36 pm

MC,

Thanks for pressing this issue with the Coach. I kept thinking there had to be a very good reason behind the scenes why Teague wasn’t getting any time since Drew laid out the challenge to take the pg spot back in the summer. But it sounds like there is no real good reason.

I was as impressed as anybody with Bibby’s deadeye 3pt shooting, but when we had a 9 point lead to protect in New Orleans we didn’t need more jumpshooting; we needed some perimeter defense. I am still looking for an answer for why Teague stayed on the bench, but I am now certain an answer will not be forthcoming.

Now that Teague is making consistent strides from game to game, especially since Bibby’s legs need rest, Teague needs to be slotted into the role.

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
5:37 pm

I agree with you Ramon.

Rufus1

December 28th, 2010
5:37 pm

@MC

You need to remind LD that the Celtics won a championship with Rondo at the PG and Perkins at the center…. 2 none offensive players. He needs to get over the Teague’s offense, because his defensive is worth probably 5pts a game

Fundamentals

December 28th, 2010
5:39 pm

Bibby has shown tremendous effort and work ethic this season. I want to see more Teague to help Teague, but more importantly to protect Bibby for when we need him. Both players need 20+ minutes a night to help Teague develop and to keep Bibby fresh for the playoffs. We need them both. Why can’t LD see that?

JSS

December 28th, 2010
5:42 pm

“Has any team ever went to the Finals with a starting PG as limited defensively as Bibby or JC1″
Steve Kerr in Chicago…

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
5:43 pm

Daniel, I actually think Bibby is doing a great job this year in comparison to last season. I just believe in certain situations that Teague should be given the chance.

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
5:44 pm

Fundamentals- Because Larry Drew does NOT have a big picture game plan for this team. He is just playing caretaker.

Ramon

December 28th, 2010
5:46 pm

JSS Steve Kerr didn’t start in Chicago.

Daniel

December 28th, 2010
5:48 pm

I think that is the real point of MC’s discussion with Drew. The issue to me isn’t how good is Teague or how bad is Bibby (etc.). The truth being Teague isn’t as good as we hope and Bibby isn’t as bad as we fear. The issue remains that LD doesn’t have any kind of consistent game plan or goal! The issue of Teague’s development (or lack thereof) is just a perfect example of it.

Rufus1

December 28th, 2010
5:58 pm

@Daniel

Woodson was not a batter coach! Last year the Hawks had very few injuries. This year JJ has missed 9 games and jamal has missed 5…Your top 2 scores missed 14 of your 1st 30 games and we are still 20-13, that is okay.

We have beat the “boogie Man” twice(Magic), Teague, Marvin and Bibby are playing better under LD…and This is just his 1st 2 months. We will still win 50 games and will definately perform better in the Playoffs.

LD will figure out that Teague is our best option, because he can’t keep justifying 15pt 4qt…something Woodson would never have figured out.

cp

December 28th, 2010
6:00 pm

Great write up MC……. I was saying the other day that it seems as if LD is pulling a Woodson and trying to win as many games as possible and not doing the other things he said he would do when given the job……Teague might not be the shot maker Bibby is but he is a better defender and he drives to the hole and draws fouls…As someone said earlier, even with Bibby and Jamal knocking down shots they give it right back up on the defensive end…..I don’t see how he can talk about being better defensively and constantly play your worst perimeter defenders in crucial situations…What is going on with Damien? He was playing some solid defense and made a lot of hustle plays when given minutes now he isn’t playing nor is Josh Powell. LD looks a lot like Woodson out there in many ways.

Fundamentals

December 28th, 2010
6:02 pm

That’s my point Daniel – LD, like Woody, coaches for the record and the playoff slot, not for the overall good of the team. Maybe Sund & ASG put expectations on LD and his crew where they can’t be flexible. It just makes you wonder why they so often put immediate gain over the long term benefit of the TEAM. We need Teague for a variety or reasons. We need Bibby for a spot shooter & vet leadership role. Without both excelling we go nowhere but home.

Playoff seed doesn’t matter to me when you’re going to lose to the same 2-3 teams anyway. Who cares when it happens, more importantly if/how it happens that matters to me.

Fundamentals

December 28th, 2010
6:04 pm

Who here thinks it’s good idea to pursue McGhee w/ Crawford’s expiring?

What about Blatche or Hinrich?

JeJe

December 28th, 2010
6:06 pm

ASG’s #1 goal is for someone on the team to always be injured. That way, they always have a scapegoat when we lose in the Playoffs and can then keep core next year since they hate spending money.

WE HAD INJURIES VS. CLEVELAND AND GOT KILLED IN 4 IN 2009
WE WERE HEALTHY VS. ORLANDO THIS YEAR AND GOT KILLED WORSE THAN ANY TEAM HAS IN NBA HISTORY

WHY DOES NO ONE TALK ABOUT THE CLEVELAND SERIES? WE HAVE NOT IMPROVED IN THE LAST 2 YEARS. WE HAVE GOTTEN WORSE.

I AM THE ONLY PERSON WHO MENTIONS THE CLEVELAND SERIES. PEOPLE ACT LIKE ORLANDO WAS THE ONLY TIME THIS TEAM HAS GOTTEN KILLED.

SUND NEVER ACKNOWLEDGES WE GOT SWEPT 2 YEARS IN A ROW – ONLY ORLANDO

Name (required)

December 28th, 2010
6:08 pm

Fire Larry Drew, Teague should be getting 48mins of playing time.

Fundamentals

December 28th, 2010
6:08 pm

Even if we lose in the 1st round again to Boston or Miami, it’d be better knowing you’ve coached all your players to be their best and given 100% than losing in the 2nd round b/c you quit knowing several key pieces weren’t ready. See past 3 years for how we as fand reacted to the last 3 losses.

We can respect a good effort. Now go get ready. Seeding and record don’t matter. It’s how you play the game!

Najeh Davenpoop

December 28th, 2010
6:09 pm

“He vs. Mike on the floor, obviously Mike is a shotmaker and you give that up. It’s tic for tac. ”

I prefer Binaca myself.

Great post, though. Nice to have an idea of what LD is thinking.

Fundamentals

December 28th, 2010
6:10 pm

JeJe – we quit both years b/c we knew in our heart we were outmatched and underprepared. Case in point again in 2011, unless something changes.

Najeh Davenpoop

December 28th, 2010
6:11 pm

“Shoot, it makes me wonder how willing he’d be to stick with the promising “big” lineup if Twin were a young guy. Would it just mean more Etan Thomas?”

I don’t know if any young post player comes into the league understanding as much about post defense as Collins does, so I think it’s kind of a moot point.

rusty

December 28th, 2010
6:18 pm

After watching jc2 play (summer,preseason,& season) I never seen anything to not like. He ball handling looked better than expected,his quickness was certainly there, his inside & outside shooting looked good & I didn’t see any shortcomings on defense. Every time I watch moe I see a lack of all this. When I see jt play I see so much positivity in his game & he brings what we need. Now I want to know what the he’ll ld is seeing in practice.

Fundamentals

December 28th, 2010
6:23 pm

JC2 is another chapter in how the Hawks fail to develop talent. The kid hasn’t hurt our W/L record one bit when he’s in. A few times he was the catalyst to a win. Why he gets DNP’d is beyond me. He should’ve at least got 4-5 minutes last night in the 1st half. To get no run is senseless, especially if you’re running Mo instead. We know what Mo has. We know what he can bring. We know Mo needs to recover. We know Sund won’t be trading for anyone – so WHY NOT develop the kid.