Who is the X-Factor for the 2013 Atlanta Hawks?

The Atlanta Hawks have a new-look roster heading into the 2013 season. They allowed Josh Smith to walk, and had quite a few other roster moves throughout the off-season as well. They were able to sign Paul Millsap to help replace the loss of Josh Smith, and they held onto Al Horford as well. There are some question marks regarding who will start at the shooting guard and small forward positions, but Kyle Korver will likely fill one of those spots.

Jeff+Teague+Atlanta+Hawks+v+Los+Angeles+Lakers+DtJpzzX8dBilOne guy who is still on the team from last season is starting point guard Jeff Teague. The Hawks almost lost Teague to the Bucks, but chose to match the offer sheet that Milwaukee had thrown his way. He is going to be the X-Factor that is a big factor in either making or breaking the Hawks this coming season.

Teague averaged 14.6 points and 7.2 assists per game last season, and will be asked to step up in an even bigger way this year. With Josh Smith now in Detroit, Teague will need to step up as the primary ball-handler as well as a scoring threat. At 14.6 points per game last season, he needs to stay around the same, but maybe up it to the 15.5-16.0 per game level. He’s got a great all-around offensive game with the ability to hit the mid-range shot as well as get to the rim and finish. He also has a very good floater once he gets in the lane.

The main deficiency in his offense is his three-point shooting ability. He shot 34% from behind the arc last season (counting both his regular season and playoff numbers), and was not considered too much of a threat by opposing defenses. Due to his quickness and ability to get to the rim, a three-point shot would be a deadly addition to his repertoire. Defenders would have to respect the drive as well as his shot, which would give him multiple options to beat his opponent.

Defensively he has very quick hands, but could use to be a bit more aggressive. He averaged 1.5 steals per contest last year, and is more than capable of becoming an elite defender at the point guard position. The coaching staff change could be a good thing for Teague, but they will need to make sure that he continues working hard on both sides of the basketball.

Without Josh Smith in town, he’ll have the ball in his hands much more than he did last year, as we mentioned earlier in the article. It will likely be a role that he shoulders very well and show instant improvement in. He has always been a capable scorer, so I don’t foresee any issues for him if he is indeed asked to step up the level of his offensive output either.

Overall, the Hawks aren’t highly expected to be a Playoff team in the Eastern Conference. They do still have a solid all-around team with Al Horford, Paul Millsap, and Kyle Korver, but those three along with Teague are going to be facing an uphill climb for a postseason birth. That being said, Teague is going to be one of the key factors in deciding Atlanta’s fate. You can expect to see a very good season from him individually. If you’re a fantasy basketball team owner, you should definitely look into picking him to your team.

Evan Massey is the Lead Editor for Hoops-Nation. Follow Evan and Hoops-Nation on Twitter.

Evan Massey

Evan is a diehard basketball fan with a lot of writing experience. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, Sports Illustrated, and various other publications. If you would like to contact Evan, you may email him at emasseysports@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.

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