Sebastian Telfair was the 13th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers out of Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York. He had committed to the University of Louisville and head coach Rick Pitino during his senior year, but decided instead to turn professional.
The Phoenix Suns, known for drafting brothers through the draft, have in a somewhat analogous way, kept up with this tradition of blood acquisitions: Telfair is a cousin of former Sun, Stephon Marbury.
You all know the story of Telfair-a high school phenom, an undersized point guard who has been around the league without reaching the potential many predicted he would achieve. Given the chance as a starting point guard in many of his 6 stops (PTL, Celts, Wolves-twice, Clips, and Cavs), Telfair has never broken through. With career averages of 23 minutes per game, 39% shooting, 78% from the line, to go with 3.8 assists and 7.8 points per game, Telfair will be battling Zabian Dowdell for the backup PG job.
Unless you have been following Telfair's less than illustrious career, you probably have the same questions that I have about the
- Will Sebastian Telfair be able to handle the Suns second unit when Steve Nash needs a break? Or, if Nash misses more than a few games here and there, will the Suns totally malfunction with Telfair running the show? (I'm thinking of a Indy Colts analogy here)
To help us all out, I got a hold of Bryan Anderson over at Canishoopus with some 411 on Mr. Telfair. Here we play 6 questions with Brian:
W: Were you all happy to see Telfair go, or not? Why?
B: I have mixed feelings about seeing Telfair depart. This is actually the second time he's been on the team and left. For one, I have a good bit of loyalty to Bassy, and I think a lot of fans here in Minnesota share that feeling. Telfair did good work for us. He saved a lot of dignity for us after Garnett left and Kevin McHale came to the disastrous conclusion that Randy Foye could be a point guard. We developed a fondness for him because he was the only competent, reliable point guard on the roster for a while.
That said, he was never anything special as a player, and probably shouldn't have been a starter. He's very much ideally a sixth man. His scoring is very streaky and that's not likely to change. We were always wincing when he'd pull up for a three, especially during his second stint here under Rambis. He's not that type of player. So personal loyalty aside, I can't say I'm sorry to see him go. There's nothing he could do that Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea won't do better.
W: If Telfair makes the roster as a backup PG, do you think he could handle 15-20 minutes per game spelling Steve Nash?
B: He absolutely can handle that. Just don't rely on him to score. Put the ball in his hands and tell him to get shots for Hill and Gortat and Frye, and he'll do good work for you.
W: Telfair came into the NBA with a super high ceiling. Why do you all think he has struggled to achieve that status? Was he overrated? Low basketball IQ?
B: There's a few factors going into this. One is that he developed a scorer's mentality at Abraham Lincoln High School, but he's not a natural scorer. Another is he's just very small...like, Allen Iverson small...and never compensated for that. He gets pushed around a lot. He has trouble finishing in traffic when he gets bumped because he's so light he can't absorb the contact. He wasn't ready coming out as a high schooler. He should have spent a couple of years in college. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of Stephon Marbury, but doesn't have Marbury's size or scoring touch, and never learned any skills to compensate for that.
W: Do you think that playing on the same team with Nash will help Telfair in any way?
B: Honestly, not likely. He's 26 years old and has been in the league for 8 seasons. His numbers have been consistent through his career. He is what he is at this point.
W: If given consistent time, what kind of numbers would we expect to see out of Telfair?
B: Given about 20 minutes a night, I'd expect something in the range of 6-10 ppg and 4-5 assists. A lot will depend on his role. He had major problems under Rambis, being asked to play the Derek Fisher role of shooting a lot and passing little. That's the opposite of him as a player. He'll benefit from a more open system that asks him to pass more and shoot less, as well as one that can live with his sometimes risky decisions.
W: Bonus Question: Do you agree with SB's asessment of Telfair:
- Very fast. A solid ball-handler and a good passer who excels at pushing the ball and running the offense. Has a nice shooting motion and can score in bunches.
- Undersized and not much of a factor defensively or on the boards. Streaky in general. Somewhat injury-prone. Has bounced around the league despite good talent level.
- Streaky but talented point guard.
B: Not sure I would agree about him having a good shooting motion. I suppose mechanically that's true, but the result is a miss a lot more often than a make.
Suns fans, what do you expect out of Bassy, stat-wise and other?