When Atlanta Hawks' guard Kirk Hinrich went down with a right hamstring injury, it was up to young Jeff Teague to pick up the slack against the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference.
The seldomly used point guard, who averaged just less than 14 minutes per game during the regular season, has seen a major uptick in playing time with Hinrich sidelined.
Fortunately for the the Hawks, Teague has risen to challenge. In five games against the Bulls, Teague has played an average of 41.4 minutes per game, and has been shooting the lights out. He's averaged 17 points per game, and has shot nearly 56 percent from the field, and better than 84 percent from the free-throw line.
In Game Five, Teague had seven assists, and no turnovers. In fact, he only has five turnovers in the entire series, which is excellent for a point guard who has played as many minutes as Teague has.
Not only does Teague have the statistics to back up his quality play, he has shown quality playmaking skills, as well. The former Wake Forest star has done a fine job of creating for his teammates on fast breaks, and has shown prudent shot selection. He also has hit some very difficult shots, and hasn't been afraid to penetrate.
In the third quarter, Teague made an off-balance runner on the left side of the court. He followed that up minutes later with a very difficult lay-up, early in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for the22 year-old, he has had the unenviable assignment of having to guard Derrick Rose. The Bulls run a lot of screens for Rose, and it's up to Teague to battle through those screens and stay in front of Rose, which is not an easy task for basically any NBA player.
But Teague has been able to put up strong offensive numbers while having to keep a close watch on Rose. The reigning MVP has averaged 32 points per game in the series, but Rose's field-goal percentage is only 43 percent.
Rose has had big scoring nights in the series, but in four-of-five games Rose has been held under 50 percent shooting, and in Game Two turned the ball over eight times. Some credit probably deserves to go to Teague and his teammates for not letting Rose do more damage.
Rose has helped give the Bulls a 3-2 advantage in the series, but many expect the Hawks-Bulls series to go to seven games. Meanwhile, Hinrich has stated that his hamstring has improved.
This puts head coach Larry Drew is an interesting situation. Does he continue to play Teague 40 minutes a night, or does he give Hinrich more playing time at the expense of Teague?
No matter what the outcome of the Bulls-Hawks series, Teague has done a lot in a short period of time to deserve more playing time in the future.