The New York Knicks have been looking for a point guard for years, and Atlanta Hawks NBA All-Star Jeff Teague could be that guy.
By Chip Murphy
The New York Knicks‘ point guard woes have been well-documented. So well-documented, in fac,t that it can just be frankly said: They need a better one.
Now, when the rumor mill spins about the Knicks trading for a point guard, there is almost never a need to pay any attention. Until now that is. Until an extremely reliable source reported that the Knickerbockers were in casual trade discussions with the Atlanta Hawks for their All-Star point guard.
The Knicks have talked to Atlanta recently about a potential trade for PG Jeff Teague. Details here: https://t.co/0E9uPGe2Jc
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 27, 2016
Last year’s All-Star season was the best of his career as he scored 15.9 PPG, dished out 7.0 APG, while shooting 46% from the field, and 34% from downtown; but 2015-16 hasn’t been so kind to Teague.
His numbers are down in nearly every important offensive category, and he’s having his worst shooting year since his rookie season — 14.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, and 41.3% from the field — but that doesn’t mean that the Knicks shouldn’t desperately want him.
Teague’s 2014-15 numbers are closer to his career averages and it is likely that this slump he’s currently going through is just that, so his current play shouldn’t scare the Knicks away from a potential offer. The NBA is a point guard’s league and the Knicks are taking a tremendous gamble next offseason if they are counting on Mike Conley committing to them for the future, while Rajon Rondo will now command a Robin Lopez-sized overpay.
Most teams in the NBA think they have a chance to make the playoffs this season, so there aren’t many sellers or impact players available. Jeff Teague could be the best player who gets moved, and the Knicks would make a tremendous statement by stepping up grabbing him.
Begley’s article addresses the logical belief among the league that the Knicks don’t have many assets to offer the Hawks in order to obtain a player of Teague’s caliber. They have no 2016 draft picks to play with — not that they should — but the trade value of Derrick Williams or Langston Galloway will never be higher, while Kyle O’Quinn and Kevin Seraphin would become expendable in this particular instance.
Teague is the kind of talent the Knicks have been searching for, an aggressive play-making point guard who isn’t afraid to attack that rim. In 2015-16, he’s averaging 10.8 drives per game, via NBA Stats, and scoring 5.9 points on those plays, while the most prolific Knick guard in that department is Jerian Grant; averaging just 3.3 drives per game and scoring a lousy 1.8 points. Teague scores 2.7 points in transition per game, more than any Knick, which would add a completely new element to the New York offense.
The change between Jose Calderon and Teague would be stagerring. As mentioned, Teague is far more agressive than the conservative Calderon but it’s more than that. Both players can take charge of an offense, but in completely different ways. The score-first approach of Teague’s game will benefit the Knicks as opposed to Calderon’s tentative approach that is best suited for the bench.
New York is 21st in points per game and 14th in Offensive Rating, so they could use all the help they can get on that side of the ball. Like almost any point guard in the league, Teague is obviously a huge upgrade over Calderon on defense, with a career DefRtg of 106 to Calderon’s 112 and 13.5 career Defensive Win Shares to Calderon’s 9.2 the difference is astronomical.
Teague would give Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis another scorer to ease the load on the current top two Knicks. With Anthony’s current usage percentage at 29.4% he leads the team by a wide margin and with a player like Teague, who can call plays for himself, Anthony and Porzingis will be able to get better looks at the basket. Teague is as skilled at getting to the basket as any player in the league, so with a point guard who other teams are actually afraid of Anthony and Porzingis’ games will get even better.
This should be a no-brainer trade for the Knicks. One of the league’s best point guards is available and if New York has the right assets they can get him. Hopefully it’s not more smoke like it appears the Brandon Jennings rumors were, and Phil Jackson can get this done.