Thursday, June 03, 2010

2009-10 Season Review: Jeff Teague

Before the season, I attempted to formulate reasonable expectations for Jeff Teague by studying the rookie year performances of 23 rookie point/combo guards drafted outside the lottery from 2003-2008, plus Acie Law IV. Their cumulative rookie performance: they averaged just over 1 Win Share per 1000 minutes played, had an average offensive rating of 99, an average defensive rating of 108, and none of them posted a league average (15.0) PER as rookies. The 23 player seasons in question account for over 29,000 minutes played.

Teague played 719 minutes. He averaged 0.83 Win Shares per 1000 minutes, had an offensive rating of 96, a defensive rating of 106, and posted a PER of 11. Out of the 24 players in this survey, Teague ranked 21st in minutes played, 18th in Win Shares, 15th in WS/1000, 17th in offensive rating, tied for seventh in defensive rating, and tied for 15th in PER.

The complete data set:

Now, there were seven rookie seasons (including Teague's) in 2009-10 that could be added to this group: Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor, Darren Collison, Rodrigue Beaubois, and AJ Price.


Teague doesn't impress in this context, especially when one considers he was the third of the seven players drafted, though any evaluation* mistakes made the franchise not be held against Teague.

*For the record, I had Teague as the seventh-best collegiate point guard prospect in the 2009 draft.

Valuable as they may be for future context in evaluating Teague as a player (and as a draft pick), because they share Teague's draft class, none of those six will help us in the search to find truly comparable rookie seasons to Teague's in the hopes of forecasting his development. To that end, I've added each player's Pts/36 minutes, eFG%, TS%, A%, and TO% (all from to the original spreadsheet embedded above.

Looking at those component stats, one can find some encouraging signs, foremost among them for pessimistic Hawks fans, the dissimilarity between Teague and Acie Law IV as rookies. Though Teague posted similar eFG% and TS% to Law, Teague scored at a higher rate, both his assist rate and turnover rate were better than Law's, and Teague's defensive numbers* look better. Given that Teague is almost two-and-a-half years younger than Law and will get a fresh start under a new head coach in his second season, it seems safe to say that Law is not a good comp for Teague.

*The Hawks allowed 1.6 more points per 100 possessions with Law on the floor in 2007-08. The Hawks allowed 0.8 fewer points per 100 possessions with Teague on the floor this past season. Putting those numbers in further context the Hawks allowed 1.3 fewer points per 100 possessions in 2009-10 (and were the league's 13th best defense) than they did in 2007-08 )when they were the league's 18th best defense).

So who is a reasonably good comp for Teague based on his rate production as a rookie?

I've got four candidates: Steve Blake, Jarrett Jack, Rodney Stuckey, and Mo Williams.


None is a perfect match even before one accounts for the various ways context affects a player's stats. For example, would Teague's scoring rate have been higher had he not been sharing the backcourt with high-usage veteran guards? Also, would his turnover rate had been higher had he not been sharing the backcourt with high-usage veteran guards? We don't know the answer to either question, but we can see, in comparing his performance in its context to that of Blake, Jack, Stuckey, and Williams in their respective contexts, a few different ways in which Teague might develop into a useful player.
  • In developing into a reasonably qualified starting point guard, Steve Blake shot and scored less often but more efficiently while becoming a better distributor and ball-handler.
  • Jarrett Jack increased his usage rate and became a competent three-point shooter without losing his ability to get to the free throw line.
  • Rodney Stuckey hasn't been able to add the three-point shot to his offensive arsenal but has mitigated his inability to score efficiently by reducing his turnover rate and increasing his assist rate.
  • Mo Williams has turned the ball over more often in seasons two through seven than in his rookie season but he made the greatest leap between his rookie and second seasons by simultaneously figuring out how to get better shots for himself and for his teammates after he moved from Utah to Milwaukee.
That last sentence provides something of the rub. Both Williams (after his rookie season) and Blake (after his second season) had to find better contexts for their skills. One hopes that a new coach will provide Teague with that opportunity in Atlanta rather than elsewhere.

Really, though, the likely path of Teague's development is but one more uncertainty for the Hawks this summer. No amount of study can overcome that, because of the comfort veteran guards provided Mike Woodson, there's very little evidence on which to judge Jeff Teague as an NBA player. He's young. He was a good college player. He wasn't embarrassed in limited minutes as a rookie. Even given those sketchy parameters, cautious optimism seems the most appropriate approach with regard to Teague's second season because those 23 rookies I studied last summer, despite including at least 6 players (Acie Law IV, Royal Ivey, Salim Stoudamire, Javaris Crittenton, Quincy Douby, and Marcus Williams) I feel comfortable declaring unsuccessful as pros, collectively played much better in their second seasons:

SeasonMinWSWS/1000ORtgDRtgPER over 14PER over 15

The individual numbers for the 23 in their second seasons:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great analysis, yours is definitely one of the best Hawks blogs I've read.

I'm optimistic about Teague as well. Along with Marvin Williams, Teague has a great opportunity to improve under a new head coach. At the very least, we can expect him to provide a change of pace off the bench as a penetrating point guard with the ability to create for others.