Hawks may have finally found their point guard: Jeff Teague

Jeff Teague has been remarkable as emergency starter in this series since replacing the injured Kirk Hinrich.

Jeff Teague has been solid as the Hawks' emergency starter at point guard this series since replacing the injured Kirk Hinrich.

After an inspiring win over Chicago on Sunday night, the Hawks are all even in their second-round playoff series against the top-seeded Bulls going into Game 5 in Chicago. But regardless of how the rest of this series plays out, there’s one important positive that is being overshadowed when it comes their future: They may have found a legitimate starting point guard in Jeff Teague.

Teague couldn’t get off the bench for Mike Woodson. He couldn’t get off the bench for Larry Drew either, which prompted the Hawks to deal for Kirk Hinrich when they sent away Mike Bibby. When Hinrich was injured at the end of the Orlando series and scratched for the second round, few expected Teague would be a competent replacement.

But through four games in this series, Teague probably has been the Hawks’ best and most consistent player. He has used his speed and is gaining more confidence in running the offense and guarding the NBA’s MVP, Derrick Rose.

“I have to give Jeff Teague a lot of credit,” Joe Johnson said after Sunday’s 100-88 win. “He has really stepped up and played big in this series. He had a few big defensive plays where he got steals and came down the court and he maybe could’ve taken the shot. But he pulled out and ran the offense. That’s big for a second-year guard. He’s been unbelievable.”

Hinrich, who could be available for the Eastern Conference finals if the Hawks go on to upset the Bulls, said his replacement is “playing great. He’s taken advantage of his opportunity. He’s been solid, good defender.”

Surprised?

“As long as he would just go out and play and not worry about the scenario or anything like that, I thought he would be just fine,” he said. “Obviously he has the ability and he’s fast and he can finish at the rim.”

After all of the franchise’s miscalculations at point guard, it could be that the search is finally over.

By Jeff Schultz

Earlier: Hawks, Josh Smith bounce back in major way over Bulls

Earlier: LIVE BLOG: Collins starts but will Hawks show up?

Earlier: Hawks’ constant Sybil act reaffirms changes are needed

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

169 comments Add your comment

hawks fan 12

May 9th, 2011
9:49 am

Teague!!!!!!!! my boy playin ball!

hawks fan 12

May 9th, 2011
9:49 am

and i was first!!!!!!1

D. Rose

May 9th, 2011
9:56 am

Sample size gentlemen. Sample size.

Baller

May 9th, 2011
9:56 am

Vol_In_Ohio

May 9th, 2011
9:57 am

He has been great to watch. Might be done 4-0 if he wasn’t playing almost the entire game. My question is whether or not he’s a good enough distributor of the ball. Will he get enough assists?

We know he plays great D, can slash to the hoop, and hit some mid-rangers. Maybe the assists don’t matter as much on a team like this when you’ve got JJ, Smoove, and Al picking up assists from their spots.

Trojan

May 9th, 2011
10:01 am

Hinrich, JC and Bibby are exactly assist machines. Teague is going to be exactly what the Hawks need. LD is too stubburn to see that. We now need a more physical center and a small forward. We also need to have better coaching than we have had.

Will Hawks management recognize that? We we address our weaknesses or will we simply wait to see who is available for the minimun in the offseason.

Trapper John

May 9th, 2011
10:06 am

Great to see this young man step it up and turn it on when it counts the most! Sometimes an opportunity is all you need. Love Captain Kirk, but you can’t have too many great players if you want the title.

elevator

May 9th, 2011
10:06 am

His defense in the 4th quarter, with the two steals late, was the diffence last night. Josh Smith …wtf. Why not bring that every night? And ZA Za had some big boards.

Twest

May 9th, 2011
10:07 am

Hey Jeff imagine IF…IF…IF all 5 starters and Jamal all played well in the same game it would be a sight to see and for sure a dominant squad!! ( Yes that’s a big, gigantic if but man oh man) You feel me!

Andy

May 9th, 2011
10:08 am

No question–Teague has exceeded expectations. He has been an asset to the Hawks. Hopefully he can keep it up, and start to be a leader on the floor. The Hawks need someone to get the offense started and keep the ball moving–we have too many guys that are content to just throw up a contested outside shot.

DMR

May 9th, 2011
10:09 am

Teague is only in his second year. His development has been stifled by coaches who won’t give him the minutes to develop his game. Teague has earned the starting point guard position in my opinion, going into next season. The Hawks could have a great foundation in Teague, Horford, and Crawford.

You have to trade great talent to get great talent in the NBA…it’s just that simple. Shake up the lineup for next season. Send Marvin Williams packing and possibly use Josh Smith as trade bait.

Andy

May 9th, 2011
10:11 am

Now we need to get Marvin to develop a little hook shot–with that big rump and those long, gangly arms he could shoot it over most of the guys that guard him. Am I right?

Joe's Johnson

May 9th, 2011
10:11 am

what is it with Hawks head coaches not knowing what it is they have on their bench? We “threw in” Jordan Crawford in the Heinrich trade and he played well when given a chance in Washington. Luckily now we are playing Teague.

Hawks need to run w/ Teague in 2012 as the starter and Heinrich can come in off then bench assuming Jamal Crawford’s role – yes, Crawford will leave for more money.

Hawks should start focusing on Dwight Howard’s impending free agency in 2012 and get in position to make a run at him – not sure if we can because of possibly being “capped” out – but Hawks should try.

You gotta figure Dwight Howard would consider the Hawks given he grew up in the A-T-L. Anyway, as my buddy Jerry Macquire would say, …….”THAT’S THE PLAN!!!!!!!”……

Nathan D

May 9th, 2011
10:12 am

Yeah he is Teague is a beast now we have our point guard, shooting guard, and power foward position known for the next 5 yrs. Now we need to know is Josh our 3 and get a Center. Send marvin out for a center.

Joe's Johnson

May 9th, 2011
10:12 am

check that, it was Tom Cruise’s other role, Lt. Caffey from “A Few Good Men” that said that.

PMC

May 9th, 2011
10:13 am

It would make me feel pretty good going foward if Teague did keep this up was the starter and they still had Hinrich to come off the bench.

Jamal and Hinrich coming off the bench could pay huge dividends.

DP

May 9th, 2011
10:16 am

It’s a good thing Hinrich got hurt and Drew was forced to play Teague or the Hawks likely would have dumped him in the offseason, then watched him turn out to become a good player with his new team. What does it say about Larry Drew that he played a washed up Mike Bibby, who could neither guard anybody or act as a legitimate point guard on offense, for half a season while Teague languished on the bench?

We’re now seeing the Jeff Teague that those of us who watched him play for Wake Forest remember. I remember him torching a UNC team that ended up winning the national championship for 34 points in an upset win. Ty Lawson, who is quick as anybody, couldn’t stay in front of Teague. Finally the Hawks have a point guard who can break down a defense and either finish or get an open shot for a teammate. Now if they’ll just put the ball in his hands in late game situations instead of having him hand it off to Joe Johnson and run to the nearest corner to let Joe play 1 on 5.

west side wizard

May 9th, 2011
10:16 am

He played great when we made the deal for Heinrich. Gotta get your chance before you can show whatcha got. To complete these days, you gotta have a quality point guard. We got one. Teague!

TheAntiMe

May 9th, 2011
10:17 am

I was going to be a wise guy and say, “Well… isn’t that why they drafted him two years ago to begin with?” But the fact is that it seems that neither Larry Drew nor Woody got the memo. Also, when you consider the fact that the Hawks have had seemingly no interest in developing other recent first round picks such as Acie Law IV and Jordan Crawford, I must respectfully change my wise guy response to a more positive, “Way to hang in there, Jeff Teague!!!”

FJR

May 9th, 2011
10:17 am

It’s crazy that he all the sudden became a really talented player in the playoffs, while he wasn’t good enough to get anything more than mop up time against inferior opponents in the regular season.

Najeh Davenpoop

May 9th, 2011
10:18 am

F-ck sample size. First of all Teague has done this all year whenever he has received playing time. Secondly consider the situation and the quality of opponent. I agree that he has to work on his ability to set up his teammates, but he’s in his second year and that will come in time. He’s a more athletic version of Tony Parker. Nothing against Kirk, and I wouldn’t wish injury on anyone, but if Kirk hadn’t been injured who knows how this franchise would have found a way to screw this up. That injury was a blessing in disguise.

Gwalk34

May 9th, 2011
10:22 am

I hate that we gave up so much when our future point guard was already sitting on our OWN bench! I hope we can overcome this trade. I am happy to be a Hawks fan and good luck in the rest of this series.

Andy

May 9th, 2011
10:24 am

Amen Najeh. The playoffs are where careers are made. People will remember how Jeff Teague stepped in and played well against the MVP on the winningest team in the league. If Teague’s play in this series doesn’t convince Drew that the man can play, then Drew needs to go.

Ernest

May 9th, 2011
10:25 am

Would anyone consider Pau Gasol for Josh Smith? The Lakers want to get faster and we want a bigger presence in the middle.

More rest?

May 9th, 2011
10:25 am

Is it possible he is playing so well only because he is fresh? He has been sitting on the bench a lot and his legs are well rested compared to the guys that have played 80-90 games already.

Steve

May 9th, 2011
10:26 am

I always wondered why Teague didn’t play more. The way he is playing now is basically the same way that he played in college, and the guy was ridiculously good at the college level. At first, I thought that his game must not play very well in the NBA. But, I’m now wondering if the coaching staff simply didn’t realize how good Teague really is. Kind of silly.

Kaye

May 9th, 2011
10:26 am

TheAntiMe

May 9th, 2011
10:31 am

Is it possible he is playing so well only because he is fresh? He has been sitting on the bench a lot and his legs are well rested compared to the guys that have played 80-90 games already.

lmao – Wow, I guess that Larry Drew has been saving Jeff Teague all of this time to keep a 22 year-old dude’s legs from wearing out. It looks like Larry Drew is a genius, after all. :P

TheAntiMe

May 9th, 2011
10:34 am

Sorry, but you can’t expect me to go all day without being a wise guy, can you? :)

Justin

May 9th, 2011
10:38 am

Actually I think it’s the opposite. He’s playing this well in spite of not having the chance to truly get into game shape. In the playoffs, you have plenty of rest days. But it’s remarkable that Teague’s lungs have been in good enough shape to go from not playing at all to playing over 40 minutes against a player as well-conditioned and as fast as D. Rose. Legs come into play more when you’re talking about jump shots on back-to-back games or on players who are in the mid-30’s. Think about it, the players who win the championship every year play more games than anybody and it doesn’t have a perceivable effect on their play.

Truth

May 9th, 2011
10:38 am

I dont think the Hawks would trade Josh Smith

I think Liberty will keep Teague.Zaza. Smith. Horford and Joe.

They will probably go after a Starting C and get rid of Jamal.

heartofdarkness

May 9th, 2011
10:38 am

Would like to see development over the summer on his jump shot, running the pick and roll and distributing on the man advantage fast break, if J.T. is going to be the starter next year. I sense Teague has been the offensive player given room as the Bulls try to stifle JJ and Crawford. Certainly, to this point in the series, Teague has been the antidote to the Bulls team defense. Now he has the momentum, you watch to see if he can continue to add to it.

phil

May 9th, 2011
10:41 am

Isn’t Teague the same guy who was torched for 44 the game before last? Why must we always annoint these guys as the next Bob Cousy, next Magic Johnson or whomever before they’ve really ever done anything?

Look at Jason Heyward now with the Braves….Hall of Fame before he ever faced the first pitch….the guy has not lived up to the ridiculous expectations as few can….

Starting point guard savior? And if he falls on his face these next 2 games? Let me guess….fire the coach, dump Teague, bring back Bibby?

2-2 in the conference semis is waaaay beyond where I ever thought this team would be. They can beat nearly anybody when Smith shows up and plays with some sense. THE PROBLEM IS that he’s just as likely to come out in game 5 and loaf, screw around and pout as he is to play hard and kick some butt….

Game 5 decides this series….we have to win this game, period, or it’s essentially over in 7….we all know that deep down….

I trust we’re taking the ole lunch pail with us back to Chicago….then again, this is the Hawks….who knows what to expect.

phil

May 9th, 2011
10:42 am

2-2…who would’ve thunk it.

Zing

May 9th, 2011
10:44 am

Teague’s problem was that he joined the Hawks right when they got good. Smith, Marvin, Childress (remember him?) all got lots of playing time early because the Hawks were horrible when they were drafted. Glad to see Teague shine–hope it lasts.

Joey

May 9th, 2011
10:45 am

Can’t believe fans still calling for a”legimate” center.

Anybody noticed the teams (Lakers, Magic) with the best and biggest big men are home watching the playoffs on tv?

Chris

May 9th, 2011
10:46 am

M-V-TEAGUE!!!

Bill

May 9th, 2011
10:46 am

The grass always looks greener from a distance….Jeff was right under their nose and they couldn’t see his ability….what does that tell you about management?

Jeff needs to play==Excitement!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trojan

May 9th, 2011
10:51 am

Bibby was literally the worst PG in the NBA. Really, that is the truth. We had someone like Teague on the bench never playing and not being developed. What does that say about LD and his ability to think?

Truth

May 9th, 2011
10:51 am

Bill,

This is the same management/ownership that passed on CP3 and D-Will when they needed a PG.

Instead they stocked on Forwards

Bill

May 9th, 2011
10:54 am

agree Truth and Trojan……..Management/ownership…sucks

Truth

May 9th, 2011
10:54 am

Why are people bashing LD?

Sometimes ownership makes the moves. When you are paying BB millions of dollars, he will get more playing time than a rookie/2nd year player

Management didnt want to admit their mistake (Bibby) so they got rid of him in a trade and had to play the veteran.

Heck most rookies dont play right away if there is a veteran that makes more $$$$$

Ted M

May 9th, 2011
10:55 am

What’s wrong w/the coaches not to be able to see Teague can play?

Beast from the East

May 9th, 2011
10:55 am

If Teague can develop his longe range jump shot in the off-season then he will be awesome. He’s played nothing short of fantastic in this series. Solid defense, very few turnovers and he can drive the lane on anyone. Way to shine when given the opportunity, Jeff!

Truth

May 9th, 2011
10:56 am

Heck Kobe Bryant didnt start most games until his 3rd year

Ted M

May 9th, 2011
10:56 am

The ref should not have stopped the Holyfield fight in the 10th

FSII

May 9th, 2011
10:58 am

Jeff Teague’s always shown flashes when he had a chance and consistency comes with playing time.

Andy,

Yes, you are correct in my mind, I remember how well Teauge played as the Kirk deal played out and for some reason; can’t put the new guy on the bench because you traded for him to start, maybe; Teague was back on the bench.

phil

May 9th, 2011
10:58 am

Fire LD…

Holyfield is 48 years old…let’s get real, please…

jhawk

May 9th, 2011
10:59 am

The bulls are a soft, 1 man team—the hawks win this series in 7–take it to the bank. Hawks v. Heat for the finals.

Truth

May 9th, 2011
11:04 am

Bulls will never make the Finals. They have the Utah Jazz rejects who could never make Finals