The Atlanta Hawks clinched a spot in the NBA Playoffs on Wednesday night with a win over the Toronto Raptors. In their first season in a while without Joe Johnson on their team, the Hawks have found a way to be successful. It has seemed like Jeff Teague has stepped up down the stretch and taken over that leadership role in Atlanta.
With the departure of Johnson and the impending departure of Josh Smith, the Hawks essentially passed the leadership duties down to Teague and Al Horford. Horford has been fantastic for most of the season, but Teague has really turned up the heat since the All-Star break and even more in the past week or so.
Since the break, Teague has averaged 16.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game on 44.4 percent shooting from the field, and 33.3 percent shooting from long range. Teague producing like that for Atlanta already showed that the Hawks were probably making the right decision in trusting him with leading their squad.
However, he’s earned even more faith from the team over his last five games. His production has improved a little, but what has really improved has been his efficiency, shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from 3-point range over his last five games.
With the playoffs less than a month away, it seems like Teague is turning it on at just the right time for the Hawks.
However, Atlanta has earned a reputation over the past few years as a team that simply can’t get the job done in the postseason. If Teague really wants to show his value to the Hawks, he needs to continue his great play in the playoffs when it really matters.
If he’s able to do that, there will be absolutely no question that the Hawks were smart for moving on from Johnson and Smith.