Hawks’ Jeff Teague reunion highlights how badly they needed help behind Trae Young
It’s been a rough 2019-20 season for the Atlanta Hawks. Despite having one of the NBA’s brightest young stars in Trae Young and a solid complement in John Collins, the team has the second-worst record in the league at 9-32. Head coach Lloyd Pierce’s squad is on pace to finish with a much worse record than it did a year ago — when it won just 29 games.
Teague spent his first seven seasons in Atlanta and was an All-Star in 2014-15. He averaged 15.1 points and 6.4 assists per game once he became the team’s full-time starting point guard. After a brief stint in Indiana, he went on to join Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Despite averaging the lowest MPG total since his second season, Teague’s numbers are still respectable. Averaging 13.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game on 44.8 percent shooting from the field and canning 37.9 percent of his attempts from deep, he can either come off the bench or start at this stage in his career. In Atlanta, he’ll serve as a backup to Young.
Teague’s arrival may be early in the eyes of some, but he’s needed in a big way. In the 680 minutes Young hasn’t been on the court this year, Atlanta’s posted a terrible 90.7 offensive rating. That would be the worst whole-team mark in the NBA by a historically large margin.
When Young leaves the floor and the bench comes on, the Hawks lose their identity. They also lose their ability to score the basketball in an effective manner. Teague should help improve that just a bit.
In addition to wanting to bolster the bench, general manager Travis Schlenk likely added Teague in an effort to keep his star at least somewhat happy. It’s long been known that Young wants a bit of help. In Teague, he gets it. A backup point guard won’t turn this team into even an average one, but it’s a start. Young will recognize that and shouldn’t be as upset over the current state of the team.
Another Young-related reason: The Hawks want to be appealing to soon-to-be free agents. Young has made recruiting pitches, but now it’s up to the team to create some selling points.
Teague’s contract comes off the books at the end of the season, but he can make an impact in a couple of ways before then. First and foremost, he can improve the team. Secondly, perhaps other veteran players will see him enjoy playing with Young and may want to do the same thing.
Bringing Jeff Teague in for this season was a low-risk, potentially decent-reward move by Atlanta. The team’s franchise cornerstone will have a bit of a load taken off him. He’ll feel like he doesn’t have to do everything by himself. The Hawks are also killing a second bird with just one stone — proving that veterans can thrive on this team.
Time will tell how well the move pays off.