5 Questions with Jeff Teague
By Jon Cooper
Being the only rookie on the Atlanta Hawks roster doesn't scare Jeff Teague.
In fact, not a lot of things do — haunted houses are about the only thing he will admit to.
Approaching the end of his first full month in the NBA, it's almost impossible to wipe the grin off the face of the 21-year-old, who was the 19th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
His comfort level is showing with a 2.57:1 assists-to-turnover ratio that is fourth among NBA rookies, and an 8.5 assists per 48 minutes total that is tied for second among freshmen. The confidence in his ability to make the right decision has given the Hawks the confidence to fearlessly put the former Honorable Mention All-America from Wake Forest at the wheel to spell veteran point guard Mike Bibby.
Teague sat down with Hawks.com and talked about a lot of things, including his biggest adjustment to the NBA, the hardest part of his first West Coast road trip, why he can relate to lady bugs and what college he does NOT want his brother, Marquis, a big time high school prospect, to attend.
1. How have your first couple of weeks as a pro been?
JEFF TEAGUE: It's going fast. The games are coming up so fast compared to college but I'm having a lot of fun. The biggest adjustment is not really having days off. You have to be in the gym every single day. In college you had study hall, had tests and things like that. But now, the whole time you're just focusing on basketball and getting your rest. You know you have a great opponent almost every day. You have no days off in this league. Every game is important.
2. How was your first West Coast road trip?
TEAGUE: It was fun, but the hardest part for me wasn't even the basketball. It was getting ready and packing everything. I over-packed, so I was carrying so much luggage. That was a big thing that I learned. You can't over-pack. I had a lot of bags with me but other than that, since we had the time change, we got a lot of rest. We got a couple of road wins. Hopefully we can have have a good stretch here at home.
3. As the team's only rookie, did you have to carry the bags or go through any other rookie initiation?
TEAGUE: I had to load them up to the plane but I didn't have to carry a lot. I had enough of my luggage. On Halloween, going out [to Los Angeles], I had to dress up like a lady bug. Othello [Hunter] bought me a suit. That was it.
4. Were you star-struck at all playing against Kobe Bryant for the first time?
TEAGUE: I wouldn't say star-struck but I was excited to play. Going to the Staples Center was really fun. I guess when you see the guys, warming up, you kind of look down a little bit but once you get onto the court everything goes to the side.
5. What are you learning from veterans like Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson?
TEAGUE: The biggest thing I learned from them was shooting the ball. I was always going to the basket and making things so difficult going to the rim. They make the game so much easier because they can shoot. That's the biggest thing I've been working on with the guys. I'm learning every day. [Coach Woodson] is a good coach. He's really tough on rookies but it's going to be better for me in the long run. I'm trying to learn the system and hang in there every day.
TEAGUE: I didn't want him to go to Wake Forest. Oh, man, I didn't want him to go there (laughs). I was like 'Pick another school. Have your fun there.' I want him to have his own thing. I don't want him to have to follow in my footsteps or anything like that. I want him to have fun, go to a school that he really enjoys. Plus he doesn't want to go that far from home. My dad doesn't really talk too much about playing for B.U. He talks more about my brother now since he was recruited by Louisville. That's a matter between them.
Jon Cooper is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.