The Atlanta Hawks have a very solid foundation of “mini-stars” surrounded by role players who understand their role on this team.
In my opinion, the Hawks have three mini-stars: Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Millsap showed what he is capable of last year after Horford went down, and all of Atlanta knows what Horford is capable of when he’s healthy.
Teague on the other hand, has grown quickly since being drafted 19th overall in the 2009 draft. We have seen him learn to utilize his speed to attack the rim and create open shots for shooters like Kyle Korver and Demarre Carroll. Last season was his third season as a starter and each year he has shown significant growth.
If you look at the basic stats Teague is among the league’s best point guards, but if you dive further into stats that involve turnovers, Teague’s value drops significantly.
Teague had the seventh most turnovers (2.9) by a point guard last season and was in the bottom half in assists per turnover. He rated fifth worst in turnovers per 48 minutes with 4.4 turnovers. More alarmingly Teague rated as the worst point guard in regards to steals per turnover at only .38.
In coach Mike Budenholzer’s system, ball movement and valuing each possession are fundamental elements. While Atlanta finished second in assists per game, they also were in the top 10 for most team turnovers a game. That has to change.
If Atlanta’s already very fluid offense could cut down on turnovers, then Atlanta could really make some noise in an Eastern Conference whose winner isn’t predetermined for the first time in the last four seasons.
Cutting down on turnovers starts with the point guard. Teague has the skill set to really thrive as a leader on the court if he would just be more careful with the ball and the Hawks offense would improve greatly.
The pressure could really grow on Teague as Dennis Schröder had a great summer league and looks poised for a bit more playing time this season. If Schröder shows the Hawks that he too has cut down on turnovers, Teague would become expendable next offseason as he would only have two years left on his contract.
Don’t get me wrong, Teague is a great athlete but if he could cut down on turnovers he would emerge as an elite point guard.
Agree or disagree? Feel free to let me know in the comments below or tell me on Twitter @BrianM_Garcia!