The NBA season tips off on Christmas Day, and while I know I’m in the minority, I can’t think of a better present than that.
The Atlanta Hawks don’t play their first game until Tuesday, and Hawks fans could have a lot to cheer for this season, especially if Jeff Teague plays the way he did against the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs last year.
Yes, the Hawks still have Al Horford, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson as their core group, but this is now Teague’s team, and he’s the key to the kind of season Atlanta will have. The Hawks will go as far as Teague will take them in this shortened 66-game season.
We got a glimpse of that last season.
Teague, who had played sparingly in his young NBA career, was pressed into action against the Bulls in the second round of the playoffs.
What NBA fans saw is exactly what ACC fans saw plenty of when Teague was at Wake Forest: a talented guard who can score while at the same time getting his teammates involved.
The Hawks lost the series against the Bulls, but Teague made Derrick Rose, who was named the league’s MVP, and his teammates work harder than most people thought they would have to. That’s a good sign for the Hawks this season and for years to come.
Teague is an up-tempo player. He is at his best in the open court, and he is a dynamic player in those situations. That should be a good fit for Smith and Johnson, and it should help Horford, as well, as the Hawks move forward and take on a new look.
Head coach Larry Drew has told Teague that he wants him to push the pace, to make the other players keep up with him and not wait for them to do so. With Mike Bibby as their point guard, the Hawks too often bogged down into a sluggish halfcourt attack, and that just doesn’t fit the talent on their roster.
Teague will change that, and it should be fun to watch what he can do for a full season with Smith and Johnson running the court with him. It will make the Hawks more interesting to watch and exciting to see what their possibilities can be.
It just might make them more dangerous in the postseason, and that’s the kind of present all Hawks fans are hoping for.
Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or email@example.com.