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Why Hawks Need Jeff Teague to Become a Leader This Season

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Why Hawks Need Jeff Teague to Become a Leader This Season
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Point guard Jeff Teague will have the reins to the Atlanta Hawks' offense this year.

Many presume the 2013-14 Atlanta Hawks to be Al Horford's team—in lieu of the departures of both Joe Johnson and Josh Smith over the past two season. Au contraire.

Head coach Mike Budenholzer and many members of the team stressed that the team's identity and leadership would be a collective group undertaking earlier this week.

However, he expects Teague to step into a leading role this season, per George Henry of the Associated Press.

We're looking for him to take a pretty big jump this year, and part of it is just going to be his natural evolution and part of it hopefully is the system. He's going to evolve as a leader... 

There's lots of different ways to lead. The more verbal or vocal he can be is good, but sometimes it's just putting an arm around a guy or getting on somebody in a quiet way or in a corner of the locker room. There's lots of different ways to lead.

 

Becoming a Floor General

Gary Dineen/Getty Images
As the floor general, Teague will dictate the pace and flow of the of the offense.

A point guard in basketball is generally viewed as the floor general, no different than a quarterback in football being viewed as the field general. 

As things go with team sports (like basketball and football), the player who controls the ball the most, often functioning as its distributor—the point guard and quarterback—is generally going to be the in-game leader. On this point, Teague agrees.

"Being a point guard, you always being a leader. Guys look at you on the floor, and you gotta command their attention, like a quarterback in the huddle. So, I'm just trying to go out there and lead by example.

"You know, I'm not the most vocal guy, but I'm trying to get better at that. We have a lot of veteran people on this team, you know Kyle, Elton, Al. You know, those guys have been helping me out a lot."

It is typical for such players to be an extension of their head coach.

The San Antonio Spurs, of whom the Hawks have remodeled their team organization and culture after, exemplify the concept of the guard as an extension of the coach better than anyone. Guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are so familiar with the team's offensive system that they function as substitute coaches.

Likewise, considering that Atlanta will be running an offense similar in style, it would be advantageous for Jeff Teague to step into such a role.

Becoming the floor general, knowing the coach's system inside and out, and being capable of implementing it on court is something that Teague is ready to do.

"Coach Bud, he has different wrinkles to his system. We're going to do a lot of things that the Spurs do, but he has his own twist on a lot of things, so we're just trying to learn through him. So, I'm going to take my time, be side-by-side with him the whole training camp and be that little bug in his ear, trying to learn everything."

Teague's teammates are supportive of his role as the leader on the floor. Just ask shooting guard John Jenkins, who also spoke with the AP's George Henry. "He's the point guard, so whatever he says is going to go. He gets in the lane and passes it out to shooters like me, and that's all you can ask for as a shooter."

Right now, his words may seem like mere conjecture, but if everything comes together as the team hopes, Atlanta fans will have more to talk about than just Al Horford. Then we may not only be looking at Teague as the Hawks' floor leader, we might also be seeing him with, perhaps, the league's Most Improved Player award at the end of the season.

 

 

All quotes, unless otherwise noted, were collected firsthand at Hawks media day.

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Michael is the Atlanta Hawks, Southeast Division NBA Featured Columnist. He also writes the Tweet of the Day Column for SheridanHoops.com.

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