Backup point guard battle: Sebastian Telfair vs. Ronnie Price


PHOENIX – Sebastian Telfair left Abraham Lincoln High School as arguably the top point guard prospect in the nation.

He was selected 13th in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers ahead of guys like Al Jefferson, Josh Smith and Jameer Nelson.

Ronnie Price, on the other hand, graduated Clear Brook High School at 5-foot-7 with no college offers to his name.

After walking on at Nicholls State University, transferring to Utah Valley University and turning in three historic seasons with the Wolverines, Price went undrafted before signing with the Sacramento Kings.

Price and Telfair couldn’t have taken more different paths to the NBA, yet after signing with the Suns this offseason, they remain in a dead-heat for the role of Steve Nash’s backup.

“They’re in a heck of a battle to see who’s going to be the backup point guard,” said Suns head coach Alvin Gentry at Media Day.

Telfair was the first point guard to sign with Phoenix, which made him seem like the clear-cut favorite for the job. But after adding Price to the mix on Tuesday, the backup point guard battle began to heat up.

Both Telfair and Price bring different skills to the table – Telfair playmaking and traditional point guard skills, Price defense and athleticism – so they’ll both most likely see the floor this season.

“They both give us guys that are capable and give us great depth as guys with different strengths,” Steve Nash said of Telfair and Price. “It’s fantastic to have a few guys that can play the position.”

Although Telfair and Price add depth to a backcourt that’s been lacking exactly that, there are only so many minutes to go around. While Price spoke of the Suns’ offense finally opening up skills people don’t know he has, Telfair isn’t ready to concede defeat.

“I’m pretty confident in myself that I’ll be out there on the court,” Telfair said. “Everything’s competition. We all going head to head every day so we’ll when the season starts.”

The Verdict

I’d expect Telfair to win the job because of his ability to run the offense. He’s been constricted by methodical, structured systems in the past, and Phoenix may be the perfect place for a rebirth.

“The one thing about him is that I don’t think he’s ever really been in a position where it was a good fit for him,” Gentry said. “I think this can be a really good fit for him. I told him we fought to get him here. He’s a young player that’s been in the league a long time that’s still searching for that right fit. I told him it happens all the time in this league.”

Price is close with Suns assistant Elston Turner and gives Phoenix a proven defender and athlete. But Gentry seems to have a vested interest in Telfair, and learning from Nash in a wide-open system, Phoenix is the one place Telfair could turn around his underwhelming career.

“He’s still got a lot of basketball left,” Gentry said. “I told him we want to try and make this a good fit for him.”

  • Kevin

    And how does Aaron Brooks fit into this? What is gonna happen when he returns? Is he just gonna get benched and then the whole Dragic trade was for nothing? We need to add some defense more than anything else. Our problem has never been offense. Price seems like a better fit.

    P.S. I think the last quote is supposed to be by Gentry.

  • steve

    I don’t like either of them as starters or long-term squad members, but I definitely think Basty has more upside.

  • Jeremy

    We will probably try to work a sign and trade with Brooks next summer, unless we value him as our starting PG of the future… Brooks’ return from China may not be until March and since he isn’t under contract i dont know if he will be able to play… It’s not the Suns fault. His decision came at the worst time and since he was a FA (restriced albeit) it would’ve been a waste for Sarver to pay the 500K to have him bought out. Bassy & Price are all on 1 year deals, so there is a chance we could resign Brooks to a deal starting next season… I doubt it though.

  • Scott

    We need to let these guys play in real games with the Suns for about a month so they can get better acquainted with the system and the players, and show how they play against real competition. Then we’ll see what they can really do. Whatever they’re doing right now, it’s probably not a true indication of their ability.

    One of these two guys needs to be capable of getting the Suns some separation when the 2nd unit enters the game.

    If they can both play, I could see Telfair running the 2nd unit in the first half (with Lopez at C), and Price running the 2nd unit in the second half (with Frye at C), expressly for the purpose of changing the dynamic and wearing opposing teams down prior to crunch time.

  • http://jtshoopsblog.blogspot.com JT’s Hoops Blog

    Telfair has bounced around more times than the ball he bribbles on the court. What is this his 10th team. He won’t be staying long.

  • DDD

    jt your dumb. go back to trolling on your crap blog with jacked up coding and font running off the screen. all you projections about phoenix are wrong especially the starting line up and key reserves. you need to watch more espn dude.

  • http://jtshoopsblog.blogspot.com JT’s Hoops Blog

    Hey, I just call it as I see it. Just look at the facts. how many teams has Telfair played in his five or six years in the league? And btw, DDD, TYVM for the plug. I appreciate the free publicity

  • http://phoenixsuns JOHNNY

    bassy is the better of the 2, he should start the second unit