Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Season-Long Theme: Jeff Teague's Playing Time
I think most concerns about Jeff Teague suffering a fate similar to Acie Law IV are unfounded. First of all, any minutes Teague doesn't get are going to Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford, Joe Johnson, or Maurice Evans in the service of securing the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. That's a far different caliber of player than Law sat behind (Anthony Johnson, Tyronn Lue, Salim Stoudamire, or Mario West) on a sub-.500 basketball team. Secondly, Mike Woodson appears far more invested in Teague's future than he ever was in Law's. Third, Teague is younger than Law, his future is longer, and there's no real rush to get him major minutes in the NBA. Finally, through seven games Jeff Teague's played a good bit of basketball and played reasonably well .
Even with a DNP-CD in Portland, Teague has played 24% of Atlanta's minutes* so far this season. He's averaging 17.1 points per 100 offensive possessions despite struggling to finish at the rim (41.7 FG% on non-dunks at the basket, 17% of those attempts being blocked) or get to the foul line (4 FTA in 80 minutes--still one more free throw attempt than Mike Bibby's managed in 195 minutes). His playmaking has been exemplary as evidenced by the 17 assists** he's earned while turning the ball over just 3 times and, while Teague is not a plus defender yet, his quick hands are evident in the team-leading*** 3.8 steals per 100 defensive possessions he's averaged in his first couple of weeks as a professional.
*In comparison, Law played 21.7% of Atlanta's minutes as a rookie despite missing 26 games through injury and the head coach's prerogative.
**Per 100 offensive possessions, Teague is averaging 10.74 assists. Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford have combined for 11.01 assists per 100 offensive possessions.
***Josh Smith is second at 2.6 steals per 100 defensive possessions.