Why we shouldn't be surprised by his elite numbers
POSTED: Jan 12, 2015 3:54 AM ET
It's no coincidence the Hawks' surge over the last two months has occurred while Jeff Teague is playing the best basketball of his career.
Atlanta has vaulted to first in the Eastern Conference at 29-8, winning 22 of its last 24 games. Over this span, Teague is averaging 16.8 points, 7.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 1.3 3-pointers and 2.5 turnovers on 49.6 percent shooting. Over his last eight games, these numbers have risen to 20.8 points, 8.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 steals on 51 percent (including six straight games with 20-plus points for the first time in his career).
These elite numbers may surprise some. But for those that have followed Teague's career, they represent a subtle progression rather than an unexpected surge. The sixth-year guard out of Wake Forest has improved every season he's been in the league, with last year's growth occurring while many of his teammate were sidelined with injuries. Now healthy and in year two with coach Mike Budenholzer's pass-heavy offensive system, the Hawks are thriving as Teague (aka Firsto Lasto) leads the way.
Teague's improved shot has been key to his growth this season as he's hitting 61.0 percent from the restricted area, 45.8 from mid-range and 35.3 percent from deep (compared to 56.5, 38.3 and 32.9 in 2013-14). As long as these numbers stay high, the rest of Teague's offense, and the Hawks, will continue to excel.
Drafted on average in the mid-fifth round, Teague is nearing first round production as he ranks 13th on Yahoo! for the season and sixth over the last 14 days. Just as you shouldn't expect the Hawks to slow down, don't expect Teague to ease off the throttle anytime soon either.
Hawks star Jeff Teague talks with the guys following Atlanta's big win over Memphis Wednesday night.
Week 12 Schedule Breakdown
Be aware: Bucks and Knicks play only one game this week because of their matchup in London on Thursday.
Four games: ATL, BKN, CHI, DET, GSW, HOU, NOP, ORL, PHI, SAS, TOR, WAS
Three games: BOS, CLE, DAL, DEN, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIN, OKC, POR, SAC, UTA
Two games: CHA, PHX
One game: MIL, NYK
Pick 'Em Up
Hassan Whiteside - 28% owned
Recently called up from the D-League, Whiteside has quickly earned playing time with the Miami Heat. He dominated on Sunday for 23 points (10-for-13 FG), 16 rebounds, two steals and two blocks with zero turnovers in 28 minutes off the bench in a road win over the Clippers. With averages of 14.3 points, 10 boards and 3.3 blocks on 76.5 percent shooting over his last four games and only Chris Andersen in front of him, it shouldn't be long before he earns the starting job in Miami. He's a clear standard league asset as long as these numbers continue.
Donatas Motiejunas - 18% owned
Motiejunas was heavily dropped after the Rockets acquired Josh Smith. But he's quietly still been productive in Houston, averaging 10.9 points (55.4 percent shooting), 5.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.8 turnovers in 27.4 minutes per game since Smith's arrival. (14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.3 turnovers in 31.3 minutes over last four games). He has scored double digits in seven straight games and will likely continue at this pace until Terrence Jones (leg) returns from injury. He's a solid add. Just don't expect many blocks.
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