Dennis Schröder made headlines just before the season when he stated, “My goal is to start at point guard. If this doesn’t happen. I will look for other opportunities.” The news was not exactly music to the ears for a Hawks organization looking to improve on their historic 2014-2015 season. At the time, the comments were questionable. Jeff Teague was coming off his best year as a pro and his first all-star appearance, and Schröder was just coming off a very promising year, but his first full season as a professional. Teague looked to be a guy who could lead this team to new heights and was no question the best option to begin season, but after half of this season it’s time to take a serious look at who should be starting going forward.
Jeff Teague took over as the starter in Atlanta in 2011 and really has impressed ever since. He has gotten better simply every year and really emerged as the guy to take over late at the end of games last season. His game three performance in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals was simply amazing. It seemed just a matter of time before Teague himself became a star in this league. However, Teague has not seen the same steady improvement he has in previous seasons. His scoring, shooting and assists numbers are all down from last year and the gap between Schroder and Teague’s games seems to be closing every day. The last 10 games have been particularly bad for Teague. He is averaging just over 10 points and 5 assists per game and only shooting 39% from the field, and Schroder has began to play more and more minutes towards the end of games.
Schröder’s game on the other hand has skyrocketed since his rookie season. His per 36 minute averages for last season were 18.2 points, 7.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds. For a player who was only 21 years old that is absolutely incredible and his potential seems endless. His numbers this year have been equally good and it seems the only thing really holding Schroder back is his playing time. Over the last 10 games, Schroder has averaged 12.4 points, 5.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds in just 21 minutes per game. That is a remarkable per 36 averaged of 21.3 points, 9.9 assists and 6.5 rebounds.
Both Dennis Schröder and Jeff Teague’s contracts expire at the end of next season. While Atlanta would love to keep both of their star point guards, they will only realistically keep one. The young German point guard is also a restricted free agent, so the Hawks control his destiny, while Teague can simply walk. There is no question Schröder is the point guard with the higher upside, and while Coach Budenholzer may be afraid to put the offense in his hands so early, it might be what is best for the organization. The longer the Hawks continue to hold on to Jeff Teague, the more his trade value will go down. Teague could be a valuable piece for any organization looking to contend for a NBA title now, and the Hawks could fill in some much bigger holes by trading Teague.
Schröder is still very young and can be erratic at times, turning the ball over way too much. This has caused Coach Budenholzer to be hesitant in handing the offense to the German phenom. But the quicker the Hawks get him acclimated to the starting role, the better he and this team is going to be going forward. There is no doubt Jeff Teague maybe better suited to head this offense today, but the Hawks are seriously fooling themselves if they think they currently have enough firepower to make a run at an NBA title today. The backup could be the NBA’s next star point guard and its time for the Dennis Schröder era to begin in Atlanta.