Vivlamore reporting. Here is my story on Jeff Teague that will appear in Tuesday’s edition of the AJC.
Jeff Teague will never be the loudest voice on the basketball court. It’s not his disposition. However, you are going to be hearing a lot more from the Hawks point guard this season.
The Hawks coaching staff, including head coach Larry Drew and player development instructor Nick Van Exel, have told Teague he needs to be a more vocal leader. There is so much information that needs to be disseminated with a new up-tempo offense and a slew of new players.
“When I’m on the court, it’s a different mindset for me,” Teague said. “I’m going to talk. I’m going to play. Off the court, I’m a laid-back type of guy. It’s not really my personality, but I’m a different person when I get between the lines. I want to win so I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll talk. I’ll yell. I’ll do all that.”
This will be a different season for Teague, who enters his fourth season, in another regard. With all the new additions – and the loss of Joe Johnson – the nature of his position has changed. His job is no longer primarily to bring the ball up court and get it to Johnson on the wing. There is no more Iso-Joe. The Iso and the Joe are gone.
Teauge will push the ball up court, run the wing, drive the lane, dish to a number of outside shooters. There are options for the speedy guard. So many options.
The additions of Devin Harris and Lou Williams, more speed at the guard position, were the impetus for the change in offense. Teague expects there will be less pressure on him to manage every minute of a game.
“If you watch Lou play, he plays. He gets up and down,” Teague said. “If you watch Devin play, he plays. He gets up and down. It’s the same way I feel. Not to take anything away from Joe but with him he got into his comfort zone, his comfort areas and I had to get him the ball right there. With these guys, they can break down the defense, play fast, get in the lanes. It’s going to help me, Josh [Smith], Al [Horford], all of us. I think that is going to benefit the whole team.”
Teague said he would play off the ball at the shooting guard position at times while in college at Wake Forest. That experience won’t be new to him.
Last season was a breakout season for Teague as he posted career-highs in nearly every statistical category. He averaged 12.6 points, 4.9 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 steal playing 33.1 minutes in all 66 regular-season games. He ranked eighth in the NBA in steals (106) and 10th in steals per game.
“Like I told him before we started camp, I want him to be a player who is able to get out in the open court as well so we can get the ball up to him,” Drew said. “If I have Lou Williams pushing the ball or Devin Harris pushing the ball and Jeff is ahead and he gets it, no one is going to stop him on the attack. There are areas of his game that should free him up to be a little bit more creative and less predictable.”
Teague admits that during his first three seasons he didn’t need to take a vocal role on the team. He joined the Core Four of Marvin Williams, Johnson, Horford and Smith. They already knew the ins and outs of the offensive and defensive schemes. They knew where to be and when to be there. Now, he is one of only five returning players on a rebuilt roster. It’s his time to step up and start directing – megaphone not necessary.
“This year he is getting a chance to be one of the leaders and one of the vocal leaders to get us involved in the offense and be able to police everybody when the time is needed,” Smith said. “We are going to be looking to him as a scoring option. It’s a new experience for him. I know it’s a challenge but I know he’s ready for it.”
- Chris Vivlamore
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