On Friday night, FSO's poll question during the Pacers game was whether Sebastian Telfair had earned himself a spot in the playoff rotation after two solid performances last week coming back from a groin injury that had him sidelined since January 20th. That answer's obviously no, and Mike Brown reiterated that response by way of a DNP during the first three quarters of the Cavs - Magic game on Sunday (sans LeBron, AP and Shaq). However, that doesn't mean the answer's also no to the question about whether Telfair has a place on this team going forward or not, because I think he does.
Photo Credit: Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer
If Danny Ferry's trade for Antawn Jamison didn't look like the best transaction of the season already with Z back in the fold, it looks a little better even now with the play of Telfair who most assumed to be a non-descript 'if you want this deal you have to take this kid's contract on' type piece. Stress kid. Telfair is 24 years old, and had he not gone straight into the league out of Coney Island six years ago - as the first point guard ever to make that jump - and say, played four years in a college environment with maybe more of a chance to mature and grow up, he'd be in his second NBA season right now. So there's that.
Then there's also Coney Island. I just got done reading The Last Shot by Darcy Frey, and if you hadn't read it, or hadn't heard, its not like that section of Brooklyn is the easiest place in the world to grow up in. Just ask Russel Thomas, Corey Johnson, Tchaka Shipp, and every one of Steph Marbury's older brothers. But Telfair, a cousin to the Marbury's, he did make it out of Coney Island. You never heard of those other guys because they didn't. You first heard of Telfair though when he posed with LeBron on the cover of SLAM Magazine as a junior in high school. You then heard he became an 18-year old millionaire. What were you doing at 18?
Keg stands, did you say? But before I go further, to be clear, I'm not making excuses for a few things he's done since then. There's no good reason to have a gun in your pillow on a team plane, being involved in some sort of dispute that involved a $50,000 chain being snatched off your neck, and driving with a loaded gun in your car under a suspended license. None of that's good. But those things did happen when Telfair was 19, 20, and 21 years old. And now he's 24, and you haven't heard too much about any off the court stuff since. There's a chance he learned from all that, and there's a chance he's grown from it. There's a chance that this Cavaliers situation - one he called in an interview after the Pacers game a 'good situation, with a good team that you definetely want to be a part of' - is the best situation he's ever been in before in his life. And there's also a good chance Danny Ferry might have been thinking all that this whole time.
Because if you take the on-the-court production of Telfair in a vacuum, you have to think he can be - at least - a quality back-up PG for the next 6 or 7 years. To date he's played in 390 NBA games, averaging 8 points and 4 assists over 24 minutes per game. And maybe now he's been humbled, and maybe now he's more hungry. But as far as a true back-up PG on the roster, that's something this team didn't have at the beginning of the season. And Telfair is a 'true one.' He's not an undersized SG with a good handle, and he's not strictly a distributor either. He might be pass first, but he can fill it up, as evidenced in the two games prior to today's. In those last two he played a total of 47 minutes, scored 29 points, dished out 7 assists, and grabbed 3 rebounds. He was 12 of 21 from the field, and 2 of 5 from three in his first two games back after being out for over 2 months. As Mike Brown readied his bench rotation for the playoffs earlier today against Orlando, Telfair wasn't much involved. He checked in late, played only 7 minutes, scored one basket and had a steal. But just because you won't see him in meaningful action again for a while, doesn't mean you should sleep on him...there's a chance he may just be getting started.
Game Notes: Cavs lose to Magic 98-92 ...after the jump...