Scouting the Hawks: Jeff Teague

Paul Abell

Jeff Teague is the second leading scorer for the Hawks at 16.5 points per game. He averages 6.7 assists per game, 10th in the NBA, and he’s 11th in assist percentage at 34.7 percent. As most point guards, he does a lot of his work using ball screens.

One thing you can’t do with Jeff Teague on the pick and roll is go under the screen. Teague will pull up and drill a three. He’s scored 1.14 points per possession when the defender goes under the screen, per Synergy Sports.

What Indiana typically does to defend pick and rolls is have the guard fight over the top, while the Roy Hibbert or Ian Mahinmi sags into the lane. This usually prevents the three, as well as an open lane to the basket for the ball handler or the roll man. The strategy allows for the guard to get a mid-range jumper off.

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George Hill is fighting over the screen; Hibbert is sagging in the lane. Hibbert is high enough here that Teague can’t dribble in for a floater or a closer jumper.

The end result here is a travel, a Hawks turnover.

It is possible Teague would try to take Hibbert off the dribble, but Teague elects not to and hesitates enough to allow Hill to recover. Because Hill and Hibbert defended this screen so well, no one has to help off of a shooter. This is especially important when you notice that David West is guarding Kyle Korver.

Where the Pacers can get in trouble with their defensive tactic against the pick and roll is when Hibbert sags too far in the paint.

Hibbert was screened by Korver, so he is late getting into position, and now Hill is stuck by himself defending this screen and re-screen. This allows Teague to get into open space. Since Hibbert is deeper than in the first example, Teague can get off an uncontested runner.

Now this is why Indiana uses this scheme; even when it is beaten, it usually results in a mid-range two pointer, not a more efficient three pointer or layup. So this isn’t terrible defense, but it could be better.

Contrary to what the Pacers do with Hibbert on the pick and roll, the power forwards for Indiana are more aggressive with the ball handler. West and Luis Scola usually go with a hard hedge – it doesn’t result in an actual double team though. But Atlanta has the potential to beat this defense.

In the matchup on February 18, Scola is aggressive with Teague. However, this leads to Mike Scott slipping the pick and getting the ball in open space.

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You can see the Pacers are about to have to play 4-on-3. As Scott drives, Hibbert comes out to contest, which leads to Scott finding Gustavo Ayon on the baseline. But Danny Granger drops in to block Ayon’s shot from behind, and the Pacers successfully defended the 4-on-3.

The potential issue here is that the Hawks were one pass away from having Korver spotting up for a wide-open three.

On April 6th, the Pacers switched Paul George onto Teague during the Atlanta annihilation. As Pero Antic screened for Teague, West was aggressive. But like Scott did, Antic sips the pick.

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Now Teague doesn’t send the pass to Antic. Instead, he waits out West, then drives by a flatfooted George. Teague gets to the rim, but misses. The problem for Indiana is that West is on the backside of Antic during Teague’s drive, which leads to Antic’s offensive board and putback.

A key part in containing the Hawks three-point potential is to slow down Teague on the pick and roll. If Indiana is forced to send help from a third defender on the pick and roll, the extra pass can lead to open Atlanta threes.

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