Well, even if he’s not, at least he can take solace in the fact that he has a helluva shoe collection.
Anyways, before last season started, someone asked Zach Harper in Daily Dime Live whether or not Jeff Teague was a top tier point guard. This notion was largely laughed off by, not only Zach, but by myself.
It wasn’t a ludicrous question because Jeff didn’t have talent; the series against the Bulls had more than proven that he did and was the whole reason this question was even being asked. However, it was ridiculous to ask because Teague was just going into his first full season as a starter, and heck, his first full season in which he would be playing over 15 minutes a game. There just wasn’t enough info on him to properly tell what he was going to be.
Now, Teague is in the middle of his 2nd season at the starting helm for the Hawks, and he’s doing pretty well. He’s 10th in the NBA in assists per game, 14th in three-point shooting, and 14th in steals per game. He’s still turning the ball over a bit too much, but that’s to be expected of a guard that’s still getting used to his increased ball-handling duties. (because, you know, that Joe Johnson guy used to be the team’s primary handler)
But the question wasn’t whether or not Teague is good; that’s been established. We’re wondering if he can be an elite point guard in this league. Well, here’s how he stacks up:
Here’s how this chart works: I thought up some point guards, took their stats from their second season as their team’s starter (starting half of the games they play and playing over 25 minutes per game), and organized it into this. (s/o to Basketball-Reference) The numbers are adjusted to per-36 minutes.
All the guys on this chart have their positives and negatives, just as you would expect from players that are in their second “full” season. But, just to me, none of those guys really stick out that much from the others, besides the fifth guy, whose shooting makes you want to cry.
One of those point guards in that chart is Jeff Teague. Can you guess who the others are?
From my experience, the blogosphere has always compared Teague to guys like Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings, and Darren Collison. As in, Jeff’s in the “yeah, he’s good, but he’s nothing special” category. Conley, Holiday, Jennings, and Collison are not on that list. (if you’re interested in that chart, click here. In my opinion, Teague wins and it’s really not close)
Jeff is the fourth player in the mysterious chart pictured above. The other PGs? Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams, in that order. In other words, those rest of the players on there are the guys that you would consider “top tier” point guards, not the “meh” ones.
I’ll admit, there is a big hole in this analysis: Teague is only 14 games into his second season. Three weeks from now, we could be looking at a completely different set of data. But you have to admit, the way Teague fits into that chart is extremely intriguing.
Now, let’s look at how those other five guards did in their third season as the starter.
Well, that makes things more interesting, doesn’t it?
The chart is in the same order as before (Nash, Paul, Rondo, Westbrook, Williams) and uses the same per-36 numbers. Besides Rondo (who’s really not your normal point guard in today’s sense), all of these guys had what you might consider their break-out season. Age really isn’t a factor here, either. Westbrook and Paul were both 22 in their seasons, and Nash was 26. Next season, Teague will be 25.
My point is that Teague, as of now, is at the same part of his career that today’s elite point guards used to be at, and he matches up pretty well. Whether or not he stays there and has his “break-out” season like the others is yet to be seen. But it’s definitely something you are going to have to keep your eye on, especially since Jeff is up for a contract after this season.
He may not turn out to be a top tier point guard, but one thing is certain: he’s not just an average guy, either.