Thoughts on Jeff Teague from Peachtree Hoops

Since we analyzed Jeff Teague's performance as outsiders and Wake fans, we thought it would be interesting to get some perspective from someone who has seen Jeff play a lot more than we have. So we turned to Peachtree Hoops, the fantastic Atlanta Hawks blog. Drew was able to give us a great interview, so enjoy!

BSD: What did you think on draft day when Teague was taken by the Hawks?
Peachtree: In one of my greatest feats as a Hawks blogger, I predicted the Hawks would take Jeff Teague. So I am not sure if my initial excitment was due to ego or reality, but I liked the pick from the start. But here is what I wrote right after the draft.

 

"So the good news is the Hawks took Teague too. The bad news is a strong case could be made that Sund and company were playing by the same rules set forth by my mock draft. No trades, no moves, just wait your turn.

Can I be upset that Jeff Teague fell to the Hawks? Shoot no. He could be a great pick. The Hawks have not had a point guard that can drive the lane AND finish since Jason Terry (maybe). If Teague stayed in school and improved a bit, he probably would have been a top ten pick next year. Imagine if he stayed all four years like Acie Law. Jay Bilas' head may have exploded.

That being said can I be a tad disappointed that the guy I wanted Ty Lawson was only one pick away? Or that a rebounding machine whether he has zero knees or three knees went in the area of picks that normally get traded for cash. I think so.

Still, the ease at which it appeared the Hawks could have moved up and taken these players or others leads me to believe the Hawks got the guy they wanted (at least with the first pick). The Hawks brought Lawson in for a last second work out more because they knew he had the chance to fall to them and less because they were interested in moving up to get him. Teague was there guy, and for now, I can trust the GM on that one. He showed flashes of brilliance at Wake so to down play what could be will just put you squarely in negative nancy territory. And who wants that, after all, the draft is a time for irrational optimism right?

So does Teague's assists to turnover ratio scare me a bit? Yes. Have I heard he is a little too streaky? Maybe so. Is it going to be incredible nice to see an athlete in a Hawks uniform streak into the lane and finish at the hoop? You better believe it."

 

BSD: What is your overall impression of Jeff?

Peachtree: I only saw three Wake games last year. Two were spectacular Teague performances and one was the tourney. What I expected from him was lightening fast speed and great athleticism around the rim. What I thought he would have to work on was distributing and getting his jumper off with that weird release.

So far, the speed is there, and that has forced opposing defenders to play off Jeff so his shooting release has been a non issue. What has surprised me a little is his ability to facilitate and inability to finish around the rim. Teague may be athletic, but so is everyone in this league, and he has had a lot of shots blocked early on around the basket. Still, he has made up for the new found limitation by averaging 8.5 assists per 40 minutes.

My only other impression is he would shoot the ball 25 times a game if the coach let him.


BSD: What do you believe to be his strengths? What does he need to work on?

Peachtree: Speed, some more speed, and that really fast speed. Teague is not college fast or ACC fast. He is just fast period, against anyone. With the hand checking rules in the NBA, that is a commodity you cannot have enough of.

He needs to work on finishing in the lane first and foremost. Jeff has admitted as much. He can get to the paint as easily as anyone in the league but is still adjusting to 7 footers with the athleticism of college guards and the quickness of help defense. Even today though, he can get that floater whenever he wants it. Just has to hit it.

If coach Woodson was answering this question, he would probably say defense though. Teague has shown the ability to pick up steals, but he still does not have the scheme down. When to switch on screens, when to fight through them or go around them, how to rotate, etc. etc. He also picks up some bad fouls.

Long term, shooting will be the biggest concern.


BSD: How have teams defended him when he is in the ballgame?

Peachtree: They don't. They let him shoot jump shots and can't guard his drives. The best, and so far largely effective, defense has been to block his layup.  


BSD: How is Jeff earning his minutes?

Peachtree: He started out getting a five minute stint or two each game, and he showed his enormous potential and the fact that he was totally lost. And while I complained about it at the time, Woodson cut back his playing time to blowouts, but I think that was the right decision. It provided him time to acclimate. 

Then Mike Bibby rolled his ankle. It did not force him to miss any games but gave Jeff practice time with the first unit and some game minutes. Helped by some blow out wins, Teague has seen over 20 minutes the last four games and looked great. They were mostly garbage time minutes and that can bring out garbage play, but Teague has looked like a different guy. Lots of adjustments still need to be made and skills must be added, but the confidence is in tact. Which is huge for a rookie point guard.


BSD: We read recently that Mike Bibby is kind of taking Jeff under his wing. Do you know anything else about this? Who else on the team does Jeff seem like he looks up to?

Peachtree: I probably only know what you read in that same article, but I have heard Bibby repeatedly say how he wished he some kind of mentor when he came into the league. Whether that was a nice fluff piece or reality I don't know, but the body language of Bibby when Teague is in the game is one of sincere support.

As far as who he looks up to, I would say everyone. I am always amazed when I talk to Wake Forrest fans. So many of them don't like Jeff. There are accusations that he played toward or bought into a draft status, put forth bad effort on defense, or something in between. That may all be true, but so far as a Hawk, Teague plays the game with real joy. His quotes, his body language on the bench, the way he reacts to his teammates and himself, the whole package shows a guy who could not be more happy to be playing in the NBA.


BSD: Will he stick in the NBA? Is he the Hawks' point guard of the future?


Peachtree: Jeff will stick in the NBA without a doubt, and he certainly has the talent to be the starting point guard. The onus is on him and his work ethic whether that starting job is serviceable, good, or all star level.

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