Atlanta Hawks’ point guard Jeff Teague knows better than most that the league is just as much about seizing opportunity as it is about talent along with being in the right situation.
It’s with this thinking in why he wasn’t upset that the Bulls gave up on his younger brother Marquis, when they traded him last month to the Brooklyn Nets, who visit the Bulls on Thursday.
“I was happy he got out of here, to be honest,” Jeff told Examiner.com following the Hawks loss to the Bulls on Tuesday. “I just wanted him to get an opportunity. I don’t think it was a good fit for him (in Chicago). New opportunity, new chance to try and get something started for himself.
“I think when he was here, he lost a little confidence. But I called him all the time and told him to stay positive.”
Jeff’s belief in his brother isn’t simply because of bloodlines. In some ways, Marquis’ pro career seems to be favoring that of his older brothers.
After being the 19th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in 2009, minutes were hard to come by for Jeff as he backed up Mike Bibby on a team looking to improve its postseason success, having made it to the semifinals the previous season after taking the 2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics to seven games in the first round the year before that.
Still not confident in his progress during his second year, the Hawks made a five-player deal that sent Bibby to Washington and brought back Kirk Hinrich.
Hinrich gave the Hawks a versatile two-way guard they were hoping would give them what they needed to contend in the East. Hinrich would injure his right hamstring in the series-clinching game of Atlanta’s first round series vs. the Orlando Magic. This made Teague the lone option at point and there was no better opportunity to prove his worth with a semi-finals matchup against the Bulls, which boosted the league’s best regular season record and featured the youngest MVP in league history; Derrick Rose.
“It was tough (not playing) because I knew I could play,” Jeff said. “So when my opportunity came, I just wanted to seize the moment and make the most of it. I’ve always been confident. I always thought I was better than everybody, to be honest. Maybe I wasn’t, but I had that confidence to go out there and try and play and compete.”
While Jeff didn’t slow Rose down by any means during the series – Rose averaged 29.8 points and 9.8 assists – as the Bulls won in six, he did hold his own in averaging 14 points, 4.2 assists and made it so Rose had to exert some energy on the defensive end during the series.
With Jeff proving himself on a big stage against arguably the top player at his position, the starting job was his entering his third year and he hasn’t looked back. The Hawks matched a four-year $32 million offer sheet Jeff signed with the Milwaukee Bucks last summer and he’s responded by leading the team in assists and is a big part of why the team is battling for homecourt in the playoffs after losing All-Star Al Horford in December.
Marquis struggled during his time in Chicago, not seeming to grasp what coach Tom Thibodeau wanted out of him and sources close to the situation say Thibodeau didn’t believe Marquis worked as hard as he could’ve.
As Thibodeau often says; “In this league, things change fast.” That’s evident in Jeff’s standing now to where it was just a few years ago entering that semifinals against the Bulls. That is why Jeff believes younger brother Marquis will be just fine in his new situation.
“Learning from great point guards, having (Jason Kidd) as his coach and having another great one on the floor; it’s perfect for him.”