Jeff Teague’s future with the Atlanta Hawks been in doubt since the team made him available at February’s trade deadline. One of the reasons why a viable market never quite materialized for the former All-Star wasn’t just his team’s sky-high asking price, but his struggles on the court compared to one year earlier.
The Hawks rode a disruptive, suffocating defense to 48 wins and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference in 2015-16. It may not have been the season they envisioned, but was certainly a solid one nonetheless. If Atlanta’s offense hadn’t lagged so surprisingly far behind its play on the other end, though, it’s safe to say Mike Budenholzer’s club would have been fighting the Cleveland Cavaliers for home court in the postseason – and likely have given the two-time defending conference champions a much better fight when when they crossed paths in the playoffs.
There’s no single reason the Hawks, who dropped from sixth in offense rating to 18th this season, struggled to score consistently. Surgeries kept Kyle Korver from finding his shooting stroke until the New Year; Paul Millsap lost the range that made him an imminently viable threat from deep; and Kent Bazemore couldn’t quite duplicate the cutting and three-point shooting prowess of the departed DeMarre Carroll. There wasn’t an individual to blame here; Atlanta’s labors were team-wide.
Still, it was Teague’s offensive performance that suffered as much as any of his teammates’. Despite shooting a career-best 40 percent from beyond the arc, he wasn’t nearly as dynamic this season as he was the previous one. Teague’s free throw rate fell by nearly five points and he shot a poor 53.1 percent from the restricted area, statistics that confirmed his decided lack of burst gleaned from a simple eye test.