VIDEO: Hawks point guard Jeff Teague is off to a fantastic start this season
ATLANTA — Chris Paul is used to showing up at arenas on the road and dealing with the challenge of being the measuring stick for opposing point guards. It’s been that way for some time for the Los Angeles Clippers’ star.
That said, it’s always a special challenge facing his good friend, protegé and fellow Wake Forest alum, Jeff Teague. Teague’s splendid work this season has helped propel the Atlanta Hawks into the top half of the playoff chase in the Eastern Conference up to this point at least.
Tonight’s Clippers-Hawks matchup at Philips Arena (7:30 p.m. ET, League Pass) provides one of two regular-season opportunities for Teague to see where he stands.
Paul has always been in a different point-guard stratosphere, but might Teague be closing that gap, albeit slightly, this season? Both Paul and Clippers coach Doc Rivers , who acknowledged the challenge both players will face tonight after the Clippers’ Wednesday morning shootaround, believe so.
“Guarding Chris Paul every night is going to be very hard, as is guarding Jeff Teague every night,” Rivers said. “They’re a little bit different in what they do and the way they play. And Teague, over the last two years, I don’t know of any guard that has improved more. I mean, he’s really become a heck of a basketball player.”
Teague is shattering his career numbers of 9.5 points and 4.3 assists this season with career-bests in points (17.4), assists (8.1) and rebounds (2.8). He is also a legitimate contender for one of the guard spots on the Eastern Conference All-Star team this season, thanks to a door being opened by injuries to other stars along with his improved play.
“Man, [he has improved] a lot,” Paul said. “I think JT is so much more aggressive now than he ever was. And that comes with confidence, which he should have. The team made some moves and freed him up to play with the freedom so he knows he’s the guy. And he’s been hooping all season long.”
We’ll see if he can keep it up tonight, at Paul’s expense.