You Might Have Missed Teague's Career-High Assists Against Hornets, That's OK With Him
Usually when a player, especially a veteran, sets a career high, you can feel it coming. There’s a buzz in the building—when will he get it? What will he do next? That wasn’t the case on Wednesday night.
In a fitting fashion, Jeff Teague set a new career high for assists, dishing out 18 of them as the Wolves ran all over the Charlotte Hornets. You could be forgiven if you were more focused on Karl-Anthony Towns’ 35-point scoring effort or Andrew Wiggins’ exciting performance, but what Teague did last night is special.
The point guard was predictably matter-of-fact about his performance:
“When I see guys got it going, everybody playing well, just try to get those guys the ball in spots where they’re comfortable,” he said.
That makes sense in theory, and it’s exactly how you want your point guard to be thinking about the game, but that attitude isn’t a given. This is the NBA—guys want to score, guys want to get recognition. Looking up and down the Wolves roster, however, all you see is a bunch of guys who want to win, regardless of their final stat lines. Count Teague, who has never once missed the playoffs, among that group.
The Wolves play better when Teague distributes like he did last night. The team is 4-0 on the season when he reaches double-digit assists. Teague is currently averaging 8.0 assists per game, which would be a career high if that number holds. Teague has a great handle and a deceptive herky-jerky dribble that helps him get inside with ease—it’s not just his own numbers but the entire team that benefits from that penetration.
Jeff dropped $1.80 worth of dimes in tonight's win!
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 6, 2018
We’re starting to see the full potential of the combination of Teague and Towns. Teague is a great pick and roll ball handler and Towns can attack in so many ways after setting a pick that it opens up a ton of options for Teague. He can go inside and kick it back out for a three, he can hit Towns on the roll for a drive, or Towns can roll into post position and back down his opponent. It’s very important for a team’s point guard and big man to have good chemistry, and the chemistry between Teague and Towns might be at an all-time high.
Teague can get you buckets if you need it, but last night he was perfectly fine to fill all the gaps where the Wolves needed them filled. In addition to his assists, he also had two blocks on Kemba Walker.
As the Wolves continue to fight back from a slow start and prove that they are among the league’s best, Teague’s contributions will be critical. Without Jimmy Butler and with Robert Covington and Dario Saric, the Wolves’ offense is different. Such a dramatic mid-season change is a tough adjustment for a point guard. But the Wolves have confidence in Teague, and he has confidence in his teammates to make the right plays. He’s just the kind of point guard this team needs.