Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2010-11 Season Review: Jeff Teague

Even though he played better in his second season than he did in his rookie campaign, Jeff Teague could not turn competent performances into consistent playing time. Even though Teague's box score numbers compared favorably both to the team's other options and backup point guards around the league and his on/off numbers were perfectly fine* when paired with a regular member of the team's 2-guard rotation.

*Updating those on/off numbers for the full season: the Hawks were -1.2 points per 100 possessions (over 1536 possessions) when Teague wasn't paired with Jordan Crawford, Pape Sy, Mike Bibby or Damien Wilkins in the backcourt.

The questions about Jeff Teague took a turn to the meta as the season progressed. Did his inability to earn regular playing time from two different head coaches over two full seasons despite all public evidence indicating the ability to do a job speak more to him having limitations largely imperceptible to outsiders or a greater organizational dysfunction?

Then Kirk Hinrich got hurt in Game 6 of the Orlando series and Larry Drew no choice but to give Jeff Teague regular minutes in Atlanta's second round series against the Chicago Bulls. Against newly-crowned MVP Derrick Rose. And the question was answered quickly and decisively. It wasn't because Teague can't play. Before his injury-shortened appearance in Game 6, Teague played more than 40 minutes a night in the series, scored more than 16 points a game with a 61.3 TS%, 22 assists against just 5 turnovers, 3 rebounds* a game, 6 steals and 3 blocks.

Beyond the numbers, Teague provided things in that playoff series that the Hawks so often lacked during the season: dribble penetration, trips to the free throw line, active perimeter defense. Given regular opportunities, he should (as long as his relatively slight frame can withstand his relatively physical style of play) do so again.

*Not a lot unless the baseline for point guard rebounding has been established by Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford and any activity on the glass counts as value added.

No comments: