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Teague Excited About New-Look Hawks
Posted By Alex Kennedy On September 28, 2013 @ 10:13 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
After another offseason of change, the Atlanta Hawks will have a very different look next season. Josh Smith, who was previously the team’s longest-tenured player, has signed with the Detroit Pistons. There will be a number of new faces in the locker room including Paul Millsap, Elton Brand, DeMarre Carroll, Dennis Schroeder and Gustavo Ayon among others. The team will also have a new head coach, with former San Antonio Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer replacing Larry Drew on the sideline.
However, one familiar player will be leading the team and dribbling the ball up the court every night. Jeff Teague, who re-signed with the Hawks on a four-year deal worth $32 million this summer after signing an offer sheet with the Milwaukee Bucks, is excited to be back with Atlanta. He has worked hard this offseason and is hoping to see results in the upcoming season.
“A lot has changed in the past couple of years, but I just try to focus on getting better every year,” Teague said in a phone interview with HOOPSWORLD. “I’ve been working on everything. I gained like seven pounds over the offseason, and I’m just trying to develop every part of my game. I think some players go off in the offseason and try to work on just one thing and try to perfect it; I’m just trying to work on everything and get my overall game tight. I’m just trying to get better, like I do every year.
“I’m definitely glad [free agency] is over with,” Teague added. “I really didn’t think about it much last year, but during the summer it was a difficult time. I learned the whole business of basketball basically. I’m excited to have that done though.”
Teague realizes he’s no longer the kid playing with a bunch of veterans. He’s the veteran now, and with that comes more responsibility. Last season, he had the best season of his career, averaging 14.6 points, 7.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. However, Teague wants to take his game and leadership to the next level in the 2013-14 season.
“I’ll have a little more responsibility,” Teague said. “I had a lot of veteran guys around me before who helped me with a lot of things, like Joe [Johnson], Marvin [Williams], Josh [Smith] and all those guys. Being a point guard, you’re always a leader in general, but I want to step up as a leader and be more vocal in the locker room. We still have some veteran guys like Elton Brand and Al [Horford], he’s the loudest voice in the locker room I think, but I do think I need to be more vocal in the locker room.”
While Teague recognizes that he’s one of the Hawks’ veterans, he still thinks he has a lot of developing to do as a player. After all, he’s only 25 years old and entering his third season as a full-time starter.
“I don’t even think I’m close to my prime,” Teague said. “I’m only 25. When I get to 28, that’s my prime time, but right now, I’m still learning. I’m still trying to get better every year, get adjusted to everything, and I think with this coaching change and this opportunity, it could be a lot of fun.”
Teague has been working out with many of his teammates in Atlanta, including some of the new members of the team. So far, he has been impressed and believes they have a lot of potential.
“I’ve enjoyed playing with them so far,” Teague said. “It’s just about us jelling, how quickly we can jell together and get that team chemistry. Once we can get that and play defense, I think we’ll be fine.”
Millsap, who was the team’s biggest acquisition over the offseason, has stood out to Teague.
“He’s a really hard worker, that’s one thing that I’ve learned so far,” Teague said of Millsap. “He comes to work every day and gives 100 percent. He’s very talented and he can really finish around the rim. He plays his butt off. Him bringing that energy to our squad, it’s just trickling through to everyone else.”
Teague has also been impressed with Budenholzer, who has made it clear that he wants Atlanta to run an up-tempo system in which Teague is going to play a big role.
“He’s a great guy and everything’s about family,” Teague said of Budenholzer. “We’ve talked a lot and texted a lot. He’s just really a personable guy, and he’s going to be fun to play with. He wants to get up and down and play fast paced. I think he has the perfect game plan for the style that we need to play with the group of guys that we have together.”
It remains to be seen if the Hawks will be better after their latest offseason of upheaval. However, it’s clear that Atlanta will be relying heavily on Teague, who is now one of the team’s focal points.
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