In a three-team deal reported Wednesday, Jeff Teague was sent home. Formerly of the Atlanta Hawks, Teague, an Indianapolis native, will play the final year of his contract for the Indiana Pacers, who reportedly are already working on an extension for the 28-year-old.
To acquire him, Indiana jettisoned former starting point guard George Hill — who started in 80 percent of the team’s regular-season games over the past four seasons — to the Utah Jazz. Two immediate upshots: the Pacers, under recently installed head coach Nate McMillan, will have a worse defender and three-point shooter at point guard in Teague. However, Teague provides a more refined and efficient pick-and-roll game to McMillan’s offensive ecosystem.
Hill, a more perimeter-oriented point guard and less of a ball-dominant player, rarely dialed up pick-and-rolls — calling for them 3.5 times per game when he was the ball-handler last season, or about 28.7 percent of possessions while he was on the court. Teague, on the other hand, called for 6.9 per game, or about 40.6 percent of possessions. Both players scored 0.79 points per possession on those plays during the regular season, but, it’s worth acknowledging, Teague engineered 545 pick-and-rolls as the ball-handler last season while Hill accounted for 259.
It wasn’t just a byproduct of team systems, either: Both Atlanta and Indiana ranked in the top 17 in pick-and-roll frequency last season, with the Pacers actually calling for more of the play type than the Hawks.
Teague did however have the luxury of working alongside some of the best pick-setting big men in the league in Atlanta. He is proficient at jab-stepping to create space prior to the pick actually occurring. In the clip below, he puts Raymond Felton out of position before he takes advantage of the pick being set.
With the speed to put most defenders on skates, Teague was Atlanta’s pick-and-roll maestro for the past seven years. His pick-and-roll proficiency isn’t limited to scoring, either. With an above-average passing acumen, he is deft at splitting defenders and finding shooters around the perimeter and in the paint. In the clip below, Teague patiently waits to draw a Cleveland double team before setting up Kris Humphries for an open three-pointer.
Teague racks up assists at a much higher rate than Hill does, too, dishing 5.9 per game last season. Indiana hasn’t had a single player equal or eclipse that mark in nearly a decade. In total, Teague created 14 points per game in assists, tying for 21st in assist points created. He also is deft at setting up teammates for assists, as evidenced by the 1.7 secondary assists he averaged per contest last season, tied for the third-most of any player in the league. Hill, for what it’s worth, averaged 0.9.
As previously mentioned, Teague doesn’t have much of an outside touch, which is why he’s essentially the whirling dervish of the NBA. The 6-foot-2 guard attacked the basket 875 times over the 2015-16 regular season, third-most of any player in the NBA. He’s the only player to rank in the top four in total drives in each of the past three seasons.
Teague has come a long way since he was the butt of a Jimmy Fallon joke for picking his nose. Indiana has long desired a floor general who can score and facilitate, and in a league saturated with point-guard talent, Hill left boxes unchecked. With Teague, Indiana should expect nothing short of improvement on the offensive end, where the team ranked 23rd in points scored per 100 possessions a season ago — an area that Indiana president of basketball operations Larry Bird openly said was a primary reason for the firing of Frank Vogel. Not only can Teague flourish in a new system, he can ease the load for everyone around him.