Jeff Teague is going home. The 28-year-old point guard was shipped to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday in a three-team deal that sent George Hill to Utah Jazz and the No. 12 draft pick to the Atlanta Hawks.
It’s a great redemption story for Teague, who wanted to be drafted by his hometown franchise back in 2009 but was overlooked for Tyler Hansbrough. Needless to say, Pacers boss Larry Bird made the wrong choice.
Jeff Teague: A former All-Star
Since securing the starting role in 2011, Teague improved on a yearly basis before he was rewarded with an all-star berth in the 2014-15 season. While he’s never been mentioned in the same tier as Stephen Curry, Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook, Teague is an underrated defender and astute floor general capable of adapting to different playbooks.
For the Pacers, Teague is definitely an upgrade from George Hill. Think about this: “The last time the Pacers had a point guard who could score and create like Teague? The early 1990s, when it was Vern Fleming and then Micheal Williams running the show.”
Bird has called for Indiana to adopt an up-tempo style of play. This was evident last season with Paul George playing Power Forward. “Since last year Bird has wanted the Pacers to play smaller, faster, copying in this copycat league the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and others who capitalize on the efficiency of the 3-point shot,” writes Indy Star reporter Gregg Doyel.
Teague + Paul George: Dynamic Duo?
Doyel reckoned that Teague and George would make a potent 1-2 punch. “Paul George has never had a point guard like this. He’s not dependent on someone else to get him shots — he can get a decent shot whenever he wants one — but he sure will enjoy having easy shots handed to him each game. And Teague does that.
Unlike Hill, who at 6-3 is built like a point guard but preferred to stand in the corner and wait for the ball, Teague is aggressive. You could argue, and I’m about to, that Jeff Teague is the most aggressive point guard in the whole league.”
Doyel isn’t far off. Last season, Teague ranked fifth in the league among all guards in driving and attacking the rim (11.1 times per game). Hill, on the other hand, ranked No.100 with only 3.7 drives per game. Teague has the ability to penetrate defenses with a lot more ease.
Recently, Teague revealed that he played through last season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee and “could barely jump or stop”. The 27-year-old still averaged a decent 15.7 points and 5.9 assists but couldn’t help Hawks recreate the magic of the previous season which saw them win 60 games.
Jeff Teague, Paul George, Myles Turner and new coach Frank Vogel must get on the same page. If they do, don’t be surprised if Pacers challenge Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot in the East.