Atlanta Hawks: No need for Teague to look over his shoulder

Vivlamore reporting. Here is my feature on Jeff Teague that will appear in the Tuesday print edition of the AJC.

You can call Jeff Teague the head of the snake.

Hawks coach Larry Drew and forward Josh Smith both use that description for the team’s evolving point guard. For where and how Teague goes, the Hawks usually follow.

“When he’s going well then chances are we are too,” Drew said.

Things have been going well of late. The Hawks (9-5) have won six of their past seven games. Teague had back-to-back double-digit assist games, a career first, and another contest with six steals, a career best, in that span.

After playing sparingly his first two seasons, Teague has been a staple of the Hawks’ lineup the past two. He has started the last 92 games, beginning with the playoff series against the Bulls at the end of the 2010-11 season, including all 80 regular-season games.

Although Teague put up career-best numbers in points, assists, steals, rebounds, blocks and shooting percentage last season, the Hawks acquired Devin Harris and Lou Williams in the offseason. Both are veterans with a proven the ability to play point guard in the NBA.

Drew didn’t want Teague looking over his shoulder. As part of the coach’s offseason cross-country tour to visit players, Drew made a stop in Indianapolis.

“That whole looking over the shoulder thing, we tried to dismiss that very early,” Drew said. “I just want him to understand, along with all the rest of the players, we are all in this together where guys are going to get playing time. There are going to be some nights when it’s not your night. There are going to be some nights when you are going to be carrying the club. Under no circumstance do I want, and I don’t care who is behind him, that he has to look over his shoulder.”

Teague, 24, has been in the situation throughout his professional career with players like Mike Bibby and Kirk Hinrich on the roster and competing for playing time. Drew explained that Teague would be his starter in a more up-tempo offense.

“To come to Indiana, not too many people come to Indiana on their off time,” Teague said. “For him to come out there, I knew he meant business and I appreciated it.”

There have been struggles this season. Despite scoring 15 points against the Kings two weeks ago, the start of a six-game win streak, Teague played less than 20 minutes. Drew said he didn’t like the way Teague was playing and went with Williams instead. Teague had a combined 38 assists in the next four games, including the double-digit efforts against the Bobcats and Clippers.

There are going to be mistakes the new up-tempo offense. Drew doesn’t want Teague to look to the bench after a turnover.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” Teague said. “That’s all I can really say. Last year, was different for me. It was like getting thrown in the fire. I didn’t really have a chance to play my first two years. I was learning on the fly. This year, I’m a lot more comfortable.

“I didn’t play (his first two seasons). I didn’t have a chance to make a mistake. (Then head coach Mike Woodson) was cool. He told me at the beginning of the year I probably wouldn’t play much. I knew going into it. Coach Drew, we got familiar with each other in practice my rookie year. He knew what I could do. He told me if you go out there and try to make plays, I’ll never be mad at you. He’s stuck to that.”

The Hawks see a more confident player in Teague. The quiet-spoken player is never going to be one to talk a lot – although he’ll talk a little trash in post-practice 3-point shooting contests. It’s his decision-making maturity that has impressed.

“I think he’s seeing the game a lot better than he has in the past,” center Al Horford said. “I think that comes from experience. He knows when to shoot the ball now and when to pass. He’s doing a really good job of that. I think in the past, maybe he had me for open shots and maybe he would realize it but he wouldn’t pass it. Now, it’s like second nature. If he doesn’t have a great shot, he’s passing the ball and getting us easy baskets. He’s the reason we are playing so well.”

Teague averaged 10.1 and 13.8 minutes, respectively in his first two seasons. Last season he averaged 33.1 minutes and so far this year is averaging 31.0 minutes. In that time, he is averaging 13.6 points, 7.1 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals.

Teague has another year remaining on his contract after being the team’s first-round pick (No. 19 overall) in 2009. He will be a restricted free agent next season, meaning the Hawks have the right to match any offer he might get from another team.

“He’s really starting to mold into a really consistent point guard,” Drew said. “… As I told him, I don’t ever want him to lose his aggressiveness, particularly pushing the basketball, being creative and attacking. I do want him to be smarter in the decision-making, be a little bit more selective. More importantly, just let your natural basketball instincts take over. He is really starting to find his niche in that area.”

- Chris Vivlamore

70 comments Add your comment

i_am_soulstar

December 3rd, 2012
5:45 pm

Teague didn’t play so well in the Cavs loss. Hope he gets his mojo back.

Jae Evolution

December 3rd, 2012
5:48 pm

LD is going to be on NBATV in about 10 minutes if you have the chance to tune in.

SteveW

December 3rd, 2012
6:04 pm

I think Teague is a RFA after this season, not next. 4th season under the old cba, and he was grandfathered in. Holiday and Lawson and those guys came at the same time.

SteveW

December 3rd, 2012
6:05 pm

Maybe I misread CViv’s intention however

ag

December 3rd, 2012
6:49 pm

great article

2 FOR JOHN DREW

December 3rd, 2012
6:54 pm

Wow …. Teague’s from Indiana , I didn’t know that

Slimjr

December 3rd, 2012
6:58 pm

Teague is our best guard. He has to play 40+ minutes a night! Play him and feed him!

NBA flashed a [nimber] on the screen while Larry Drew was being interviewed and it leaped off the screen.

As HC of the Hawks Larry Drew is 96 and 69!!!!!!!

News flash: Larry aint going anywhere anytime soon people…

Book it Dano…

Woody .5 gm behind Miami for the best record in the East!

12-4

30-10

Melo avg 29pts per gm!

Slimjr

December 3rd, 2012
7:04 pm

Are you kidding? Orlando puts up 40 pts in the 4th qtr on the road against the Lakers to produce a surprise win?

And some of you want to trade Josh for that stiff Gasol? Hahahahahah

Slimjr

December 3rd, 2012
7:10 pm

Congats to Coach Avery Johnson for being named HC of the Month[November] for the Eastern Conference!

Congrats to Coach Lionel Hollins for being named HC of the Month[November] for the Western Conference!

keith

December 3rd, 2012
7:21 pm

Nice to hear the coach encouraging his player, praising his player, and building his player up. Sounds as though Jeff is in the teams plans long-term, moving forward.

Harry Hawk

December 3rd, 2012
7:44 pm

Teague is one of those guys that can be replaced, but he’s young, fairly cheap, and is active. Can’t complain too much about him.

Supreme Grand Poobah

December 3rd, 2012
7:45 pm

Slimjr – Now would be a great time to take advantage of trading Smith for Gasol. Put Gasol in the low post and watch him score. Try to make him into a long range shooter doesn’t work.

Supreme Grand Poobah

December 3rd, 2012
7:46 pm

Slimjr – by the way, the lakers were within 1 point, then D’bonehead sat him on the bench and they lose by 10. Wow, you sure know how to spin things.

Sameba

December 3rd, 2012
8:14 pm

Josh >>> Gasoft

Sameba

December 3rd, 2012
8:40 pm

O'Brien

December 3rd, 2012
9:16 pm

“I didn’t play (his first two seasons). I didn’t have a chance to make a mistake. (Then head coach Mike Woodson) was cool. He told me at the beginning of the year I probably wouldn’t play much. I knew going into it..

I always thought it was because Teague was not playing well in practice :twisted:

O'Brien

December 3rd, 2012
9:18 pm

FTPB,

Buddy,

Regardless of what Al says, and what position he thinks he is best suited for, it is up to the HC to put what he thinks is his best lineup on the court.

And FWIW, I think the Hawks best defensive lineup has been with Zaza, Al and Josh on the court at the same time (although I would still prefer Al to man up consistently and be the best center he can be).

Captain Obvious

December 3rd, 2012
9:37 pm

Al is an Allstar Center

Thank you

keith

December 3rd, 2012
9:40 pm

Pau Gasol will probably be a Hall-of-Famer one day. Pau is the quintessential Low Post player. He is a dying breed. Our current front line would learn from his Basketball Acumen. He, along with Steve Nash are probably the 2 smartest players in the NBA, PERIOD!!!

Captain Obvious

December 3rd, 2012
9:41 pm

Captain Obvious

December 3rd, 2012
9:48 pm

Al is one of the smartest players in the NBA today. A two time Allstar without post moves.
He maximizes his abilities with more precision then even the great Pau Gasol.

Sameba

December 3rd, 2012
9:50 pm

I prefer Marc Gasol over Paul…

keith

December 3rd, 2012
9:57 pm

Once this trade for Pau goes down it will change the Atlanta Hawks Basketball organization forever. We need more fundamentally sound Basketball players. As we move forward, we will no longer be the “laughing stock” of the NBA. Other Superstars will want to come here to play.

keith

December 3rd, 2012
10:02 pm

Pau will be an excellent Mentor for Al moving forward. He can teach Al his vast array of Low post Moves. Pau is a European Version of Hakeem Olajuwon. When Pau is the featured Center, he can FLAT OUT BALL BOYZ!!!

Sameba

December 3rd, 2012
10:12 pm

:-) Amazing, how many LAL fans/agents we got on this blog. I can imagine in what a terrible cituation LAL found itself to work that hard here… ;-)

Sameba

December 3rd, 2012
10:13 pm

Sameba

December 3rd, 2012
10:15 pm

LAL can fool Orlando etc but not Danny Ferry. Forget about that “trade”.

Buddy Grizzard

December 3rd, 2012
10:41 pm

“Amazing, how many LAL fans/agents we got on this blog.”

LOL true story.

paian

December 3rd, 2012
10:46 pm

keith im not sure if you are aware of how much pau costs and hes declining a bit people do age ya know.

MattP

December 3rd, 2012
10:53 pm

Ya, my biggest problem with Gasol is his contract. With that big of a contract going into next season and Gasol looking like he is declining, it is not worth it.

Slimjr

December 3rd, 2012
11:05 pm

Stick a fork in Pau. He’s a shadow of his former self..An over paid stiff before our eyes…

His decline[game] has been breath taking. That’s just how it goes. Some guys lose it overnight…

A shooting star that has fizzled out.. He’ll make a great assistant coach someday real soon, teaching bigs how to post up..

Buddy Grizzard

December 3rd, 2012
11:09 pm

JC1 hits a big shot, Al Jeff comes right back with the and 1, then BG with a long jumper… Marvin dnpcd.

Buddy Grizzard

December 3rd, 2012
11:10 pm

Wow major flop by billups to get 3 free throws.

Buddy Grizzard

December 3rd, 2012
11:11 pm

Now cp3 taking over

MattP

December 3rd, 2012
11:46 pm

Jenkins is looking good, he has 20 points and 2:51 left in the 3rd. Scott looks bad, only FG he made was the first one of the game which was a dunk.

Sameba

December 3rd, 2012
11:55 pm

MattP:

Where do you watch that game?

MattP

December 4th, 2012
12:00 am

http://www.nba.com/dleague/games/20121203/SCWBAK/gameinfo.html

They stream it on the dleague site with the box score.

Sameba

December 4th, 2012
12:05 am

Thanks alot!

Big Ray

December 4th, 2012
2:19 am

Ha….so O’brien calls it…all that “Teague must be playing poorly in practice” foolishness from certain corner was just that – foolishness.

Woody never gave Teague a chance from the get go…

Big Ray

December 4th, 2012
2:22 am

And Larry Drew was actually doing the same thing. Funny now with Danny Ferry in charge, LD has this wonderful attitude about Teague being the starting PG.

I can’t count the number of times we heard about Teague not doing this, Teague not doing that…and that must be why Woody didn’t play him. Turns out it was all bunk…just like some of us thought.

Well, at least now finally Teague is where he should have been all along…in the starting PG spot.

I will say this – given that Joe Johnson was the favored son, it was never going to happen while he was around and getting his butt waxed by Woody (and to a lesser extent, LD).

Grandad

December 4th, 2012
2:28 am

Pau Gasol is currently misfit in LA with his new teammates.
Also there have been two coaches already.
NO;
I would not trade Josh for PG now,
as LAL does not have any substantive ancillary draft picks
or good young players to augment a trade [PG for Josh].
HOWEVER;
if LAL is going to dump his $alary,
then perhaps our *expirings for PGasol makes some sense.
* (DHarris; Petro; Morrow) … works on trade machine

We would then lose our [$] flexibility for the summer,
but, having Gasol now with options to trade later;
OR;
decide on Josh, Zaza, KKorver this summer …….
after we see if CPaul will come here,
gives us even more flexibility and options.
-AND-
a solid Big for a run this yr !

Grandad

December 4th, 2012
2:36 am

Yes;
Gasol still has some game left.
He needs to be out of LA;
he wants out of LA !
I think he would thrive here.
Not a star … but a Great Team Player !
* amongst other other Team Players

Grandad

December 4th, 2012
2:39 am

If Gasol ends up in San Antonio —> Watch Out !
He will fit like a glove with the SASpurs.

Rusty

December 4th, 2012
2:42 am

Big talk by LD let’s see whether he gives him more minutes & stops taking him out for large minutes & see if he keeps starting Harris or Williams in the forth quarter,

Rusty

December 4th, 2012
2:44 am

LD is the master at talking out of both sides of his mouth,can’t believe anything he says.

EmirS.

December 4th, 2012
3:02 am

Lakers won’t make any moves until Steve Nash gets back and they have the whole unit playing together. If then, it is still not working then you will most likely see Gasol out of a Lakers uniform. I also believe for Dwight to resign with the Lakers, Gasol will have to be moved. It’s bad enough Kobe takes a good chunk of Howards shots, to have Gasol taking a good portion probably isn’t going to sit well with Howard.

I also believe the phrase “Big Three” is good enough. The Lakers may prove that a “Big Four” just isn’t the same nor better. The Lakers are in such a good position…that all they need is a few 3 point shot makers. They can be in the same position, if not better, as the Heat. Ryan Anderson, Kyle Korver, Steve Novak, Randy Foye, Mike Dunleavy, and Nicolas Batum are just some names that jump out. Like the Heat of old, the Lakers have a ton of inside presence but no range shooters. Heat were very smart to keep Battier while adding Ray Allen and Rashad Lewis. It was by far, the best off season acquisition imho. Better than the Lakers getting Howard.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months.

Buddy Grizzard

December 4th, 2012
3:37 am

Howard is the target, not Gasol:

“So I want to do it the best that I can and I’m going to take everything in I can to get what I can out of the NBA. Which, for me, is winning a championship,’’ Howard added. `”So if I have to play on another team or do whatever I have to do to get one, that’s my goal.”

CP and Dwight to Atlanta is still possible.

vava74

December 4th, 2012
4:04 am

Gasol may end up amnestied by the Lakers since I doubt that there will be any takers for his contract.

I am SURE that Ferry is not even considering trading for Pau.

Nothing wrong with Pau, the player, but again, it would be for us JJ all over again. A very good #2 player at a too high cost.

If, however, he is indeed amnestied and we could bid for him, I would certainly agree that we should to add him to our front court without replacing any of the existing players.

I don’t like to see Josh at the SF slot nor Al at the PF slot but with a guy like Pau on the floor, who has a low post game, is a terrific passer and a very intelligent player, we would be very dangerous, albeit still soft at protecting the rim, but heck, you can’t have everything.

SF C PF
Smoove/Korver Gasol/Zaza Horford/Ivan

PG SG
Teague Stephenson
Harris Lou

Offensive wild card: Morrow to cover minutes at the SG and SF slots if KK and or Lou were not hitting their shots.

vava74

December 4th, 2012
4:14 am

Big Ray:

“I will say this – given that Joe Johnson was the favored son, it was never going to happen while he was around and getting his butt waxed by Woody (and to a lesser extent, LD).”

I think JJ gets blamed for too many bad things that happened either due to coaching STUBBORNNESS or coaching WEAKNESS.

JJ went ISO way too much under Woody because Woody was too stubborn to try anything else on offense and did not delegate on LD, who has proven (IMO clearly) to be a good X’s and O’s assistant.

JJ went ISO to close games under LD because LD is a weak $%&/# who is unable to impose any will and manage the talent at his disposal AGAINST an established pecking order.

JJ was a shy and very silent guy, hardly contributing with any “leadership soundbytes” BUT, and this is a huge BUT, he ALWAYS endorsed Teague, in particular last year.

And, as you may remember, Teague was at JJ’s place when JJ got trades, a clear sign that although JJ was mostly a loner, he had a good relationship with Teague.

IF LD had any appreciation for Teague he would have told JJ last year that Teague had to handle the rock to close game, to drive/slash and either finish or dish.

Teague, in the CHI series, proved that when motivated he can drive by the best guys in the league and finish at the rim. And that was 1 and half seasons ago with virtually zero playing time on his belt.

So, I disagree that JJ had anything to do it beyond the fact that LD THOUGHT that he had to appease JJ and cater to his ego to close games and to handle the rock.

A quality coach AND a quality GM would have had talked to JJ and told him that he had to change his game, for his own good, and let Teague be the primary ball handler and let the offense flow through more players.

Heck, playing with Deron certainly helps relenting ball handling, but certainly Avery told JJ on their first meeting that he should be the “catch and shoot JJ” he pronounce himself to now be when he arrived to Brooklyn.

vava74

December 4th, 2012
4:15 am

BR,

I am not contradicting you, just clarifying what I believe you said since there are guys who will pick on your words and pile on JJ, rather than on LD.