The Atlanta Hawks have struggled slightly this season to find their groove without top scorer Joe Johnson, who is now with the Brooklyn Nets. At first, it seemed like Johnson’s departure would be the key to the Hawks’ future success, but now Atlanta fans are finding out the hard truth. Matters were made worse when Lou Williams tore his ACL, which ended his season. Now the Hawks must rely heavily on Jeff Teague to carry them into the postseason.
Through 41 gams this year, the Hawks are 23-18, four and a half games behind the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast division. However, Atlanta is 3-7 in its last 10, which isn’t a solid stat line heading into All-Star weekend.
Teague has been the lone bright spot during this stretch as he has elevated his game during Williams’ absence, averaging 6.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game. The Hawks are going to need even more dishing from Teague and less turnovers (he’s currently averaging 2.8 per game).
Since Johnson’s departure, no Hawk has stepped up in crunch time, which is why Atlanta has lost so many close games this year. Josh Smith is the closest thing the Hawks have to a closer, but he moves so much better without the ball than with it, which is why Teague’s ball distribution will be so key going forward. If he can regularly find Smith cutting to the basket for the highlight-reel alley-oops, it will open things up for the Hawks’ offense and give Atlanta hope for the playoffs this season.