NBA Draft Busts: Sebastian Telfair
Sebastian Telfair was hit with as much hype as any high schooler to enter the NBA draft. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he played his high school ball at Lincoln. The 6-foot 175-pound guard had a knack for getting into the lane and was as tough as they come. He wrestled with the idea of going straight to the pros once done with high school, but eventually verbally committed to Louisville and head coach Rick Pitino during his senior year. Telfair had a great senior season at Lincoln and was pressured by many to skip college and enter the NBA draft; he succumbed to the pressure. Sebastian decided to back out of his committment to Louisville and instead entered the 2004 NBA draft.
The Portland Trail Blazers selected the 19-year old with the 13th overall pick of the draft. The Blazers were dreadful in Telfair’s rookie season, so the Coney Island product was inserted into the starting lineup for the teams last 26 games of the season. Telfair finished his rookie year averaging close to 7 points and 3 assists while playing 20 minutes per game. The next season Telfair was named the starting point guard, but it was short-lived. He sustained an injury which sidelined him for a dozen games in December and lost his starting job to the more efficient Steve Blake. Telfair finished the season as the backup, racking up 9.5 points and 3.6 assists per game.
The 2005 – 2006 season was Telfair’s last in Portland as he was traded to the Boston Celtics. Telfair spent all of one season with the Celtics before being traded as part of the Kevin Garnett deal to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Telfair had his best NBA season with the T-Wolves, averaging a career high in assists with 5.9 to go along with 9.3 points per game. Following the 2007 -2008 season, Telfair’s first with Minnesota, the T-Wolves signed the Brooklyn guard to a 3-year extension. The 2008 – 2009 season was Telfair’s best in terms of points, averaging 9.8 per game. Again, Telfair was deemed expendable and was traded during the 2009 off-season to the Los Angeles Clippers. Telfair played in 39 games for the Clippers, including one start before being traded again to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He finished out the 2009 -2010 season with the Cavs, appearing in only 4 games. Once more, Telfair was traded during the 2010 off-season, this time to a familiar place: the Minnesota Timberwolves. This past season Telfair appeared in only 37 games for the T-Wolves, starting eight times.
Sebastian Telfair will be entering his eighth year in the NBA. He’s played for five different teams in those eight seasons, including eight different coaches. Telfair is one of the last victims of the high school to NBA jump. He hasn’t lived up to all the hype, and I doubt he ever will.