Cha-chunk! Cha-chunk! Vroom! That’s the sound of the Atlanta Hawks getting their motors running as this team is on the road to greatness….or the playoffs which many pessimist, coming into this season, gave the Hawks no chance of reaching prior to the season. The Hawks level of success may depend on Jeff Teague, the key to the ignition that gets the motor running. Two questions; 1) Can Teague get the ignition started night in, night out? 2) Can Teague keep the motor running efficiently to finish games on a consistent basis? The answer to those questions could determine just how good the Hawks are with coach Budenholzer’s “GPS” system as he knows the way to greatness and with Al Horford behind the wheel, steering the Hawks in the right direction.
Before a person can drive a vehicle or a team, the first thing that has to happen is getting the vehicle started or crunk up as some would say. In the two games where the Hawks were defeated handedly, versus the Heat and Rockets, the key never turned the ignition. Against the Heat, Teague never got going and had one of his worse games this season thus far going 4-13 from the floor scoring 9 points to go along with 7 assists and 3 turnovers. Wednesday in Houston Teague was a lost key shooting an abysmal 0-5 from the field with 3 turnovers, scoring only 4 points. We already understand if the car is not started it will not move forward unless it is going downhill.
It is one thing to not start the vehicle and go no where and it is another thing to start the car only to turn it off before you reach your destination. As stellar as Teague has been this season in igniting this Hawks team that currently stand fifth in the eastern conference with 8 wins by putting up career numbers in both points and assists, Teague has also been a key catalyst in the Hawks sputtering down the stretch of more than a few losses this season where he seemingly turned of the ignition leaving many fans scratching their heads at the enigma of our starting point guard. Take the last home game versus Orlando Magic for example. In that game Teague shot 3-5 from the field scoring 9 points, 2 assists and 0 turnovers in the first quarter. The Hawks trailed by one point going into the second quarter. By halftime Teague had scored 13 points, 3 assists to only 1 turnover leading the Hawks to a 4 point lead at the half. In the second half Teague became unraveled as he scored 0 points, 3 assists and 3 turnovers in the third quarter while the Magic out scored the Hawks by 16 points taking a 12 point lead into the fourth quarter in Phillips Arena. The Hawks were not able to bounce back and the Hawks suffered a surprising loss to the Magic at home. Similar situation versus the Mavericks in the season opener as Teague scored 13 points, 7 assists, 3 steals and 3 turnovers while leading the Hawks to a 55-53 halftime lead. In the second half Teague dished out only 2 more assists to 3 more turnovers, 2 of the turnovers coming in the fourth quarter down the stretch. Similar instances of Teague’s inconsistent play has reared it’s ugly head in losses versus the Lakers, Nuggets, Knicks and Celtics.
Once again, Teague is averaging career highs in both points and assists this season but he is also averaging a career high in turnovers. Thus far Teague’s assist to turnover ratio is about 2.5 to 1 which is less than impressive. He is the Hawks primary ball handler so some turnovers are to be expected, but in critical moments of the game turnovers will halt the teams desired destination. Teague must get his a assist to turnover ratio closer to 3.5 to 1 for him to reach the next level of becoming an all-star point guard and being the driving force behind the Hawks long term success. It is early in the season and Teague has room to grow, but it is time for him to become more mature as a point guard and leader because without Teague playing at a high level the Hawks are on a journey to nowhere except maybe the lottery. Bon voyage!
The Hawks next game is tonight in Phillips Arena where Teague and the Hawks plan on redeeming themselves from a season opening loss to the Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. You may follow me on twitter @nottydred for more Hawks information, stats and sports entertainment. Til next time, thank you and stay blessed.