Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague looks forward to being ‘focal point’

Caught up with Jeff Teague at the Hawks’ youth basketball camp in Suwanee. As we were talking, some dude came up and expressed his dismay at the Hawks trading for Devin Harris and signing Louis Williams because he saw this as a threat to Teague’s playing time.

I smiled because the guy’s angst sounded familiar. It’s the same sentiment I hear all the time from my blog people, who tend to freak out whenever there’s a better-than-terrible guard on the roster who can play the point behind Teague.

Never mind that Teague ranked third on the team in minutes played per game last season and logged about 80 percent of the minutes at point guard, according to 82games.com. Forget that Teague remained the starter after Kirk Hinrich returned from injury last season. Set aside Danny Ferry’s statement that the Hawks “will be more of Jeff’s team than it has ever been.”

Like that dude who cornered Teague, my blog people think back to Teague’s history with Larry Drew and just know that he’s waiting to trap door Teague.

Teague does not have those same concerns.

“I was going to come in confident and ready to play,” he said. “I’m familiar with Coach Drew. I was ready. When the trade happened I saw it as an opportunity to step up and play even better. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Seriously, though, I don’t mean to dismiss my blog peoples’ concern over whether Teague will get more opportunities. You have good reasons to be a bit skeptical, not least of all the fact that Teague made another big jump in scoring efficiency last season but his usage actually decreased a bit.

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.

“I’ve got to be more of a leader,” Teague said. “I looked to other guys last year like Joe and Marvin [Williams] and those guys. I feel like it’s my time to step up and be a leader along with Josh and Al and try to be that third guy.”

Perhaps 2012-13 will be the year when it all comes together for Teague. The organization gets behind him; Drew gives him more opportunities in the offense; Teague finally becomes more assertive, and the absence of Joe means there’s one less guy for Teague to defer to. At the very least, there should be more shots to go around.

Even Teague isn’t sure how the lineup is going to shake out, noting that the Hawks are “a lot smaller but a lot faster.”

He said he can envision Harris playing alongside him at two guard. The same goes for Louis Williams. Maybe it’s Josh at small forward with Zaza Pachulia at center (which would make for a small frontcourt off the bench unless Ferry adds another center). Or maybe it’s Kyle Korver at small forward with Harris or Anthony Morrow at shooting guard (but I still can’t shake the image of Teague shutting down Korver in the 2011 playoffs) .

Right now, the Hawks have an awfully small backcourt with three guys who like to work with the ball in their hand (though Harris did play off ball some in Utah). Teague said they can make it work.

“We all can score the basketball,” he said. “We don’t really have a big two right now. We have a lot of shooters but Joe was a big two. We are just going to have to do it all collectively with Joe and Al and [now] I feel like I can be an elite point guard.”

He’s got a long way to go to reach that level but he got better last season and there’s still room for growth.

Teague’s 3-point shooting was better until his percentages took a big dive over the final 25 games. It appeared Teague lost confidence in his 3-pointer when he started missing a few but he brushed it off.

“Everybody goes through a slump during the year,” he said. “Mine just happened to be at the end. Hopefully I can come back shooting even better and be more effective.”

Even when Teague was making 3-pointers, opponents defended him by going under screens. With that in mind, Teague said he’s focused on his mid-range J this summer, another aspect of his game that improved significantly last season.

Teague got to the basket frequently last season but didn’t finish strongly or draw a high rate of fouls when he got there.

“I can’t do anything about fouls,” he said, smiling. “Finishing on layups, that’s on me. I can go in there and dunk the basketball. I could just take it right to the rim but I shot floaters because I thought guys could come over and block it.”

Teague also will have to be sharper defensively on screen-rolls. He went through periods where he seemed to be nonchalant about fighting through screens.

That’s reflected by the 0.8 points per possession posted by opposing pick-and-roll ballhandlers, a number that ranked 117th in the league according to Synergy Sports Technology. Also notice that Teague’s opposing PER is a pedestrian 16.2 in spite of an effective field-goal percentage allowed of just 47.3–those 17.5 field goal attempts and 9.6 assists per 48 minutes stand out. A player with Teague’s physical skills can do better.

Teague said he only recently got a chance to meet with Ferry because of the GM’s busy schedule and Teague’s two-week trip to China for an NBA outreach program. Teague said Ferry’s a “smart guy” with a plan that includes Teague as a major piece.

“He told me he was looking forward to working with me and he really liked my game,” Teague said. “He didn’t know how the trade and stuff would go but he knew I was going to be a focal point.”

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

297 comments Add your comment

hawksfancents95

August 1st, 2012
6:21 pm

Rico Niles

August 1st, 2012
6:23 pm

Teague will rise to the occasion and be the future star he is destined to become. GO HAWKS!

TMACfan

August 1st, 2012
6:24 pm

Wish you the best Mr. Teague

hawksfancents95

August 1st, 2012
6:32 pm

Teague is our stater no doubt, harris will prob be the best backup PG in the NBA giving us a lot of depth at the position which is most crucial. Idk how many minutes devin harris will get at the 2 with all our shooters. teagues assists need to go up as well, he was not that great in that aspect, but he is a great driver and good tear drop shooter.
im hoping for a 15ppg 8 ast 3reb 2 stl 1blk(hes a good weakside blocker too) season from jeff

MC
any news or anything about Ivan?
anything about signing any defensive SFs?

UGA

August 1st, 2012
6:43 pm

Did we use the 5 million trade exception to get Korver or do we still have that along with the one for Green?

CSP

August 1st, 2012
6:43 pm

Have a great season Jeff and Go Hawks!!!

Just Joe

August 1st, 2012
6:47 pm

It’s still all about the “inner dog” with Teague. Passing up wide open shots late in games. Not demanding the ball after a defensive rebound. Not finishing drives with confidence (”I thought guys could come over and block it”). I’m hoping for improvement, that next step, this year.

PEDRO EL GITANO

August 1st, 2012
6:48 pm

A mí me importaría poco que se traspasara a Teague.Devin Harris es bastante mejor que él,y Lou Williams puede jugar de escolta,algo que Teague no puede hacer,pero no por qué sea un base puro(que no lo es)sino porque no sabe tirar nada más recibir,él tiene que botar primero y luego decidir la jugada.En resumen:es un base limitado en un equipo que ya no le necesita.También me gustaría aclarar que este año es más excitante que los últimos 4,vamos a disfrutar mucho porque estos chicos tienen que ganarse el respeto de sus compañeros partido a partido,y no hay nadie que inmerecidamente asuma los tiros clave(como sucedía con el infame Joe Johnson).Creo que lo haremos muy bien,mejor de lo que muchos esperan;sólo hay que fichar a un alero y un reboteador y dejar que las cosas fluyan.

Buddy Grizzard

August 1st, 2012
6:48 pm

I don’t know if Teague should be talking about being “that third guy” on the same team as a player who is ranked in the top 10 in PER as a point guard and who would be ranked in the top 5 (ahead of Joe Johnson) if he was ranked as a shooting guard.

UGA

August 1st, 2012
6:48 pm

In the two games we beat Boston, I remember Teague making some big shots toward the end….

Just Joe

August 1st, 2012
6:49 pm

The $5M exception was traded for Korver. Willie’s is $1.35M, I think.

Buddy Grizzard

August 1st, 2012
7:10 pm

Also, Vava, you complain that PER is overused and unreliable. Please look at the top 5 at each position and tell me which rankings you have a problem with. I use it for the convenience of comparing the statistical efficiency of players at all positions. You can argue that Jason Collins’ impact goes beyond his stats until you are blue in the face, but I will still argue that a better player does more things that show up in the stats.

So here’s the top 5 at each position:

Point guard:

1 Chris Paul, LAC
2 Derrick Rose, CHI
3 Russell Westbrook, OKC
4 Tony Parker, SA
5 Kyrie Irving, CLE

Shooting guard:

1 Dwyane Wade, MIA
2 Manu Ginobili, SA
3 Kobe Bryant, LAL
4 James Harden, OKC
5 Joe Johnson, ATL

Small forward

1 LeBron James, MIA
2 Kevin Durant, OKC
3 Carmelo Anthony, NY
4 Paul Pierce, BOS
5 Danny Granger, IND

Power forward

1 Kevin Love, MIN
2 Blake Griffin, LAC
3 LaMarcus Aldridge, POR
4 Kenneth Faried, DEN
5 Paul Millsap, UTAH

Center

1 Dwight Howard, ORL
2 Andrew Bynum, LAL
3 Al Jefferson, UTAH
4 Tim Duncan, SA
5 Greg Monroe, DET

Granger looks a little overrated, and it’s worth noting that the 5 guys ranked after Milsap, including Josh Smith, all have PERs that are nearly identical. So where’s your big problem Vava? It looks pretty accurate to me.

drmaryb.(""_*).

August 1st, 2012
7:12 pm

Focal point of what? A trade?

TRAGIC!!!

The Truth

August 1st, 2012
7:35 pm

“but I still can’t shake the image of Teague shutting down Korver in the 2011 playoffs”

LOL, I can’t either

i_am_soulstar

August 1st, 2012
7:39 pm

<<More worried abt what the 2013-14 Hawks will look like.

Blodus

August 1st, 2012
7:46 pm

He stinks. First, he needs to stop smiling after every layup he misses. Second, he sux. He doesn’t have the skills to lead. Third, he sux.

KevinM

August 1st, 2012
7:47 pm

““He didn’t know how the trade and stuff would go but he knew I was going to be a focal point.”

I have the same question as DMB, MC. Clear up this comment.

Is this about Devin coming in?

Last week, I heard Teague’s interview on 790 and he has yet to talk or even meet Devin. Maybe its premature, but I would think there would be some communication this far into the trade.

MC, any update on Ivan, the lone guy we might re-sign from Sund’s roster from last year?

Michael Cunningham

August 1st, 2012
7:58 pm

@KevinM: “MC. Clear up this comment. Is this about Devin coming in?”

he means Ferry told him he didn’t know exactly what kind of team they were going to be but Teague would be a focus.

no Ivan update. there’s no rush on it. he can wait through the summer to see if he gets a RFA offer. no advantage to signing QO now.

Rev in Tampa

August 1st, 2012
7:58 pm

Ivan for President!

See ya next year

August 1st, 2012
8:05 pm

I guess we aren’t serious about winning. A scrub like teague takes us no where. The project continues. Im out. going to root for the Lakers. See you idiots later.

True Clarity

August 1st, 2012
8:14 pm

We could only wish

Big Ray

August 1st, 2012
8:17 pm

Doesn’t matter how you spin it, the arrival of Harris is competition for Teague. Harris is an expiring contract asset, Teague is part of the future until the Hawks think they can do better.

It’s a good opportunity for Teague to be pushed to play better or get temporarily replaced by a competent PG while he gets his head straight (if it becomes necessary). After initially worrying about LD, Ferry has settled my mind with his quotes (sorry, but I still don’t trust LD) I see nothing but good coming of this.

Lou Williams is nobody’s starter, really. He’s another good sixth man who comes in and scores in bunches. We’ve paid more for that before, and with an older player who was never going to be even close to adequate on defense.

Big Ray

August 1st, 2012
8:18 pm

I guess we aren’t serious about winning. A scrub like teague takes us no where. The project continues. Im out. going to root for the Lakers. See you idiots later.

Stop lying. You have nowhere to go. And you know it.

The Truth

August 1st, 2012
8:19 pm

Danny’s small-ball make-up with an over abundance of PG/SG is about as radical as BK obsession with 6′-8″ forwards. If I can recall, BK desired to start five 6′-8″ players including 6′-8″ Bois Diaw as PG. When the results back-fired, he acquired 6′-8″ SG/SF JJ from Phoenix Suns and tried to convert him to PG, that backed-fired as well.

Let’s hope Danny is not done with the make-over because the fans will struggle to watch cap-relief and financial flexibility at Phillips. We pay to see wins not long range plans.

But considering Rome wasn’t built in a day and compared to Sund; Danny is a breath of fresh air. Relatively speaking, however, that not saying much since Sund was so inept.

Rusty

August 1st, 2012
8:23 pm

Blodus. Maybe you sux

Astro Joe

August 1st, 2012
8:30 pm

So LD wanted Teague to go and get the ball but he also encouraged Josh to run the fast break? No wonder the team looked lost at times last season, they probably didn’t know what the head coach wanted from play to play.

Good to hear that Teague isn;t as threatened by competition as his blog fans who seem to shake in their boots with the very thought that another PG on the team may also know how to dribble the ball and breath at the same time.

i_am_soulstar

August 1st, 2012
8:31 pm

Since JJ disappeared anyway in the playoffs, I don’t see how this team does worse on offense without him.

i_am_soulstar

August 1st, 2012
8:35 pm

“Some dude came up and expressed his dismay at the Hawks trading for Devin Harris and signing Louis Williams because he saw this as a threat to Teague’s playing time.”

What’s the fascination with Teague starting at PG for this team? I’m a fan of the guy also, but hell, let’s start or acquire the best point guard available at all times. If it is him (and I’m hoping he shocks everybody and becomes that guy), awesome. If not, he should either step up or step aside.

Dept. Of Unintended Irony

August 1st, 2012
8:36 pm

“Good to hear that Teague isn;t as threatened by competition as his blog fans who seem to shake in their boots with the very thought that another PG on the team may also know how to dribble the ball and breath at the same time.”

How does one dribble their breath?

Astro Joe

August 1st, 2012
8:37 pm

soulstar, Hawks needed Joe to get to the playoffs (at least the get homecourt advantage in the playoffs).

Astro Joe

August 1st, 2012
8:38 pm

By laving out a crtain vowl. Duh.

tyger

August 1st, 2012
8:43 pm

2012-2013 Hawks

DHarris LWilliams JTeague
AMorrow JJenkins DStevenson
JSmith KKorver MScott
AHorford IJohnson JWilliams
ZPachulia JPetro KBenson?

the king

August 1st, 2012
9:05 pm

@See ya next year

Yeah. This is the same ol stuff. It just gets old after a while. Why even bother. I kinda pulling for OK myself. Hawks just are interested in winning. Im tired of rooting for a team I know is going know where.

Go Durant!!

the king

August 1st, 2012
9:06 pm

correction :Hawks just aren’t interested in winning.

Buddy Grizzard

August 1st, 2012
9:08 pm

“Lou Williams is nobody’s starter, really. He’s another good sixth man who comes in and scores in bunches. We’ve paid more for that before, and with an older player who was never going to be even close to adequate on defense.”

Big Ray is somebody trolling your handle? You do know that it’s Lou Williams I’m talking about when I say ranked in the 10 among point guards in PER and would be ranked in the top 5 if he was listed as a shooting guard right? Lou Williams = top 10 PER at either guard position.

terrell

August 1st, 2012
9:15 pm

I’m find it laughable thay Jeff deferred to Marvin. Joe, I can understand, but Marvin?? And LD can holler “get it Jeff” all he wants. Smoove’s still not giving that ball up on the break. lol

terrell

August 1st, 2012
9:16 pm

Buddy Grizzard

August 1st, 2012
9:16 pm

“So LD wanted Teague to go and get the ball but he also encouraged Josh to run the fast break?”

Yeah Astro… pretty funny stuff. Doesn’t place LD in the best light.

Buddy Grizzard

August 1st, 2012
9:19 pm

Danny Ferry may have informed Drew that Teague will be the starter because he’s planning to sign James Harden to a max offer sheet after this season and pair him in the back court with Lou Williams. Lou is more of a shooting point while Harden has great playmaking ability for a two guard. Ferry needs Teague to start so that he can build value to use him in a trade. Devin Harris is just an expiring contract. Lou Williams is the future at point guard for the Atlanta Hawks.

Dept. Of Unintended Irony

August 1st, 2012
9:21 pm

“I’m find it laughable thay Jeff deferred to Marvin. Joe, I can understand, but Marvin?? And LD can holler “get it Jeff” all he wants. Smoove’s still not giving that ball up on the break. lol” – terrell

Yeah, if LD TRULY wanted Teague to have the ball, shouldn’t he have been hollering “Smoove, give it up” ???????

Dept. Of Unintended Irony

August 1st, 2012
9:31 pm

I guess that last post should have been by The Dept. of Intended Irony.

Jeff Teague

August 1st, 2012
9:31 pm

just wait till next year .check me out yall

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnkt5NZgg6w

newkid

August 1st, 2012
9:33 pm

If Drew has to consistently encourage JQuick to demand the rebounded ball in the backcourt, it may just be that JQuick doesn’t quite have the ‘team leader’ on court personality you’d want in a point guard. No head coach has to coax the really good young point guards in the league to demand the ball in the backcourt, it’s a part of their DNA to instinctively go get it. Kid’s got the physical gifts, but may not quite have the psychological make-up to be the point the Hawks need for the future. Too bad the Hawks were a pick shy of Ty Lawson.

AG

August 1st, 2012
9:37 pm

Jeff will have a good season as well as several Hawks. It will be a very balanced team with Josh leading the team 20 ppg. Williams, Horford and Teague will average 15ppg -17 ppg.

Big Ray

August 1st, 2012
9:37 pm

@Buddy Grizzard My bad Buddy, I had a dick in my mouth and was busy working my mojo.

Yeah I see your point Williams > Teague for sho!

AG

August 1st, 2012
9:43 pm

That link of Jeff did not include his highlights from last season.

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DIRTYO11

August 1st, 2012
10:05 pm

@ See ya next year…it’s fans like you from Ga that get on my nerves. Always running to a team that you think has the best chance to win a Champioship. If you a TRUE GA fans you stick with the Bulldogs, Falcons, Hawks, Braves & YellowJackets until the end. See ya next year
PACK YOUR BAGS & move to LA with the rest of the fake people in LA

Rick James

August 1st, 2012
10:21 pm

I’m just rejoicing over the fact that Joe and Marvin are gone..

DIRTY012

August 1st, 2012
10:25 pm

@ See ya next year, just because the hawks are intent on losing and disappoint you with the Teague experiment is no reason to shove off. And that goes for anybody else who want to leave. If you dont like losing too back, Go join Miami or the Lakers. If the hawks want to put up a losing program they have every right to. You are not a real Hawks fan if you dont appreciate losing.