The Boston Celtics have been one of the best teams in the East for the last several years. In fact, they have made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the last four seasons. Most analysts agree that the Celtics should be a strong competitor again this season, especially if star Jayson Tatum takes another step forward.
The Celtics didn’t make any huge offseason moves — aside from losing free agent Gordon Hayward, that is. But they added some helpful role players to their team, including point guard Jeff Teague. Here we recap Teague’s time in the NBA and new opportunity in Boston, before investigating how Celtics coach Brad Stevens changed his life as a high schooler.
Jeff Teague’s NBA career to date
The Atlanta Hawks drafted Teague with the 19th pick of the 2009 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-3 point guard spent his first two seasons in a backup role with the Hawks, putting up modest numbers in a limited number of minutes.
He took over as the starting point guard in his third season, and proved himself a capable offensive orchestrator and a reliable shooter, particularly from three-point range.
Arguably Teague’s best season with Atlanta was 2014-15, when he was a key contributor to the Hawks’ unexpected first-place finish in the East. That year he averaged 15.9 points, 7.0 assists, and 1.7 stealers per game, while shooting 34.3% from deep, according to Basketball-reference.com. He also made his only trip to the All-Star game that year, as a reserve.
In July 2016, the Hawks traded Teague to the Indiana Pacers as part of a three-team deal. After a single season in Indianapolis, Teague left to join the Minnesota Timberwolves, spending two and a half years with the team, before finishing last season back in Atlanta. Then, last November, Teague signed a one-year, veterans-minimum deal with the Celtics.
Jeff Teague’s opportunity with the Boston Celtics this year
By most standards, the 32-year-old Teague has already passed his prime, and at best can function as a league-average point guard. That was fine for the Celtics, who originally envisioned Teague as a solid backup option behind star Kemba Walker.
Yet Walker is currently dealing with an ongoing — and somewhat mysterious — knee injury, one which has been aggravating the point guard for nearly a year.
In October, Walker got a stem cell injection to his left knee, in a bid to alleviate his injury. At that time, according to the Boston Globe, the Celtics announced that Walker would miss the beginning of the season, with an update on his condition coming at the beginning of January.
That news suddenly made the Teague acquisition all the more important for the Celtics, who find themselves short on guards.
How Celtics coach Brad Stevens changed Teague’s life
Long before Teague became a member of the Celtics– and long before he had even set foot on an NBA court– he had already developed a positive relationship with Boston head coach Brad Stevens.
According to NBC Sports, Teague met Stevens as a sophomore in high school. Teague was on a recruiting trip to Butler University, where Stevens was the head coach.
Though Teague was a talented basketball player, his academic performance left a lot to be desired. Stevens quickly noticed that Teague’s grades weren’t up to snuff. As Teague tells the story, Stevens didn’t just confront him about the poor grades, he confronted him about it in front of Teague’s father (per NBC SPorts):
“So he pulled me into a room at Butler as a sophomore in front of my dad and he basically showed him my grades. I had been hiding report cards for some years. And basically just told me, ‘If you want the opportunity to play college basketball, you have to bring your grades up.’ And my dad not seeing my grades for a couple of years, he was pretty mad about that.”
At the time, Teague likely wasn’t happy about being outed like that. Yet the incident ultimately helped him straighten up his act and get serious enough about school. These days, Teague credits Stevens with helping him make the leap not only to college basketball, but also to the NBA.