The All-Star case for … Jeff Teague


The Hawks (25-8) have the best record in the Eastern Conference and the third-best mark in the NBA. Despite the team success, the Hawks leading scorer is 30th in the league.

As it appears by the current All-Star balloting, the Hawks won’t have a player voted a starter for the game. There will likely be at least one Hawks player named as a reserve to represent the Eastern Conference based on the team’s success.

But who will it be?

An argument can be made for each of the five starters. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will state the case for each in a five-part series.

Thursday: DeMarre Carroll

Friday: Kyle Korver

Saturday: Paul Millsap

Today: Jeff Teague

Monday: Al Horford

You could call it an understatement.

When Mike Budenholzer was asked about Jeff Teague earlier this season, the Hawks’ coach was succinct in stating the importance of the point guard.

“Obviously, when he plays well it makes a big difference,” Budenholzer said.

Teague has certainly played well.

The Hawks boast the best record in the Eastern Conference and Teague directs the well-balanced offensive attack. Teague is the Hawks’ leading scorer through 33 games with an average of 17.3 points. The total is good for just 30th in the NBA. Teague has scored in double figures 22 times this season, including 16 20-point games. He is on pace to increase his scoring average in each of his six seasons.

The Hawks’ offense is all about pace and ball movement as they share the wealth better than nearly every team in the NBA. The Hawks are third in the league in assists at 25.3 per game. Their season totals include 30 games of at least 20 assists and 20 games of at least 25 assists. They have reached the 30-assist mark five times. Teague is the man directing that facet of the offense most of the time as well. He leads the team and his 10th in the league with 7.0 assists per game.

Teague has led the Hawks in scoring 10 times and in assists in 26 of his 30 games. He also adds 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals, 11th in the NBA, to his all-around totals.

In his sixth season with the Hawks, Teague has 35 point-assist double-doubles, sixth in franchise history. He trails only Doc Rivers (112), Mookie Blaylock (109), Lenny Wilkens (43), Jason Terry (41) and Eddie Johnson (41). The Hawks are 29-7 in those games. He is also sixth in Hawks’ history with 19 career 20-point, 10-assist games, trailing only franchise standouts Blaylock (24), Pete Maravich (22), Terry (22), Johnson (21) and Wilkens (21).

Teague has often made his biggest impact late in games. The latest example came in Saturday’s victory at the Trail Blazers, the Hawks’ 18th in the past 20 games. Teague scored two straight baskets late in the fourth quarter.

The Hawks, who led by as many as 20 points in the second half, saw their lead dwindle to 106-101 with 1:57 remaining. Teague took over. He scored on a layup and a bank shot in the lane and the Trail Blazers would get no closer.

In his last four games, the Hawks’ current win streak, Teague is averaging 25 points with a .533 field goal percentage (32-60), topping the 20-point mark and shooting at least 50 percent each time. He is also averaging 8.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals.

“There were a lot of games (last season) that we had that we let slip away in the fourth quarter,” Teague said. “We have to do a lot better at finishing this season.”

Of Teague’s 178 field goals this season, 42 have come in the fourth quarter.

Despite his impressive play and the Hawks’ position, Teague faces stiff competition at the guard position. John Wall and Dwyane Wade appear the fan balloting choices. That leaves three more spots with Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler likely choices. Teague would be left among a group with Derrick Rose, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.