Bring it rook.

Sebastian Telfair is ahead of Kendall Marshall on the Phoenix Suns depth chart at the point guard position. If he isn't - he should be.

"BUT BUT BUT... rabble rabble KENDALL MARSHALL... is the future -GASP- he needs the minutes to develop and become STEVE NASH reincarnate!"

When Marshall was drafted and Steve Nash was traded, some fans were (and many still are) calling for his development as a point guard to come by immersion, or in other words, throw him completely into the water of playing time and leadership responsibility and hope that he can learn to swim in that ocean.

And then Goran Dragic was signed. The conversation then swirled around how great of a back-up Marshall would be and that maybe he should even play more minutes than a normal back-up, or how awesome the Suns' second unit would be with 'KButter' at the helm this year.

All the while there has been little to no mention of our young 26 year old eight year NBA veteran Sebastian Telfair. Remember him? The young spark plug that struggled for the majority of the season, who even at one point lost the back-up point guard spot to Ronnie Price early in the season. Remember him? Or what about the player who after the all-star break started to understand Alvin Gentry's offense, who had something click like a light switch and who orchestrated as great of a second half of the season turn-around as we've seen in a while?

The guy who almost single-handedly kept the Phoenix Suns in the hunt for a playoff spot as the regular season wound down. Remember him? He won the Dan Majerle Hustle Award last year as well as the hearts of many Suns fans with his unrelenting defense and occasionally electric offense. Remember him yet?

Kendall Marshall is a rookie and we all need to be reminded of that fact. I'm not insulting nor am I trying to knock or discredit the talent or potential of our 13th overall lottery pick of 2012. Until training camp starts in three months and unless something crazy happens there - nothing Marshall has done up to this point has earned him a spot ahead of Telfair on the depth chart.

Basketball by Immersion?

Listen, I've heard the argument and I think I fully understand it a little more than most. The concept of development by immersion is a great one because it works really well with some things. One thing it works really well for is learning a new language. That's where my experience comes in.

At the age of 19 I served a volunteer proselytizing mission for my religion and was sent for two years into the depths of the southernmost states of Mexico. Now, I didn't pay much attention in high-school Spanish class so I was going in culturally blind and linguistically ignorant. I was given only nine weeks of intense Spanish studies at a training facility in the U.S. before I was shipped to Chiapas, Mexico - paired with a native companion (who did not speak English) and turned loose into the city to teach our beliefs to anyone who would listen.

I thought with my nine weeks of Spanish-all-day I would be able to understand and speak my mind somewhat - but when I actually set foot in Mexico and heard the language as it's spoken by people who aren't trying to teach me and dumb it down... I was completely lost. They spoke too fast and I couldn't keep up, they didn't use all the cookie-cutter words I had been taught. It was overwhelming. That's what learning by immersion usually is.

Did I eventually learn Spanish? Yes - actually really fast, within six months I was at a level where I felt I could understand almost everything and pretty much accurately speak whatever was on my mind. From there - it was a constant learning experience as I added new vocabulary, slang, axioms, accents and etc. to my Spanish repertoire. I can say that, though it was overwhelming - immersion was a great way to learn a new language.

But is it a great way to transition from college basketball to the NBA?

Some players are just ready - they have stormed into the NBA from college or high school and have no problem assimilating to the fast pace, the stronger bodies, the more elaborate scheming and the higher level of play overall. Those players are few and far between - those players had no troubles at all dominating in the lesser-venue that is the Summer League.

Kendall Marshall isn't one of those players. Rarely are point guards that type of player. It's been stated before and should be stated again, the Point is the hardest position to play in the NBA. It's going to take time for Marshall to develop his game and there is absolutely no need to try to rush it or create inflated expectation. Many if not most players crack and crumble at some point under the heavy expectations of performing in the NBA - if we can ease our young players into those responsibilities and expectations the load is more likely sustained than if we simply drop it on their shoulders.

But I don't even need to be explaining this... because regardless of what kind of potential Marshall has, Telfair has earned the back-up spot and Kendall will have to fight for minutes.

Bassy

If you don't think he's earned it please explain yourself in detail in the comments and expect my rebuttal/s.

I think fans don't take him seriously. Six different teams in six different years, the numbers aren't good... I get it. But let me remind of some of the things written about Sebastian's second half transformation.

Through April 1, Bassy ranked dead last on the Suns by producing a -0.083 WP48. During the team's final 14 games Telfair shot all the way up to first on the entire team with a 0.212 WP48 that was percentage points ahead of Steve Nash himself!

...

After being a major weakness early in the season, the Suns' bench transformed into a potent unit by season's end. Now all of a sudden fans no longer held their breath when Nash rested as the bench mob extended leads and dug into deficits, sometimes even outplaying the starters in April.

VotS - Michael Schwartz

The best endorsement on Telfair's turnabout came from Price, whose camp and practice battles with Telfair got so intense that they looked like they despised one another. Price lost the backup job and spent most of the season out of the rotation but sounded like Telfair's biggest fan as a free agent heading out the door.

"I'm a competitor and so is Bassy," Price said. "When you have two competitive guys going against each other at the same position every day, you're going to have some clashes. At the end of the day, we have so much respect for one another. I can push him. I can say things to Sebastian that someone else can't say. I can get on Bassy as a player getting on a friend. It's like a brotherhood. We learned from each other. The way he finished out this year, it was special."

AZ Central - Paul Coro

Even an endorsement from Steve,

"Other than Goran's (Dragic) stint, we haven't really had a real successful backup point guard," Nash said. "Bassy's done a good job. Alvin (Gentry) has done a fantastic job. Our coaches have been unbelievable this year. Our coaches deserve so much credit for us being in the position we're in. We've overachieved and then some. They have given Bassy the freedom to play his game and, at the same time, molding him and giving him the discipline to do what the coaches need. It's been a pivotal part of our season turning around."

AZ Central - Paul Coro

And from my own end-of-season evaluation,

I remember the game that Alvin put Telfair on Chris Paul in the final seconds of a tightly contested and important game against the Clippers - and Sebastian had proven through the course of the season that what Gentry did was the right move. I had no objection; in fact it made me smile because I believe it was the move that we all had been hoping would be made. Telfair's hustle and effort were unmatched by anyone on the team this year and that's why he was this year's Dan Majerle Hustle Award recipient.

BSotS Leiland Tanner

This is my point here - Sebastian has earned the spot and now it is only his to lose. Marshall doesn't magically take it unless it's because he earns it in practice or when given the opportunity in live game situations.

From observations taken during the five game Summer League in Las Vegas, Kendall has his work cut out for him if his goals are to be the back-up point to Dragic this season.

Just to cap this off I'll reiterate this, I'm not trying to knock Marshall - or prolong his development. I actually think he is in an ideal position to learn at a comfortable and less stressful level playing behind Dragic and Telfair who both have played with Steve Nash and are sure to teach the young rook as much as he can handle.

Earn your spot rook. Work on that jumper or those fancy passes will never work.

Poll
Do you agree? Should Telfair be ahead of Marshall on the depth chart?

  752 votes | Results


Morris dominated in every game.

Neither player made the published "all star" team announced yesterday before some of the winners even played their fifth game, and certainly they each had some struggles. It took rookie PG Kendall Marshall two dud games to make more than one shot, and Markieff Morris entered game 5 with a 37% shooting percentage over four games.

However, Kendall Marshall finished the week with more assists than any other summer league player (#1 at 6.5 per game) and Markieff Morris looked like the best big man on the court in all five games he played, finishing 10th in the league in points-per-game (19.8) and 2nd in rebounding (9.8).

Here are some kudos for each player this morning:

2012 NBA Summer League - All-Veteran Team | Scott Schroeder | SB Nation

Although this was the first summer league for most of these guys due to the lockout, Scott evaluated guys who played in the NBA last season. Morris was ranked as the #1 second-year PF in the circuit.

And now Marshall...

Ranking all 52 Rookies in NBA Summer League | Mike Prada | SB Nation

Marshall made the list of five 'developing' players who showed flashes but still have a long way to go. If he'd played the whole week like he ended it, he would have been nearer the top of the list of 52, per Prada.

I am hoping we can talk Omaha Sun into a more in-depth look at Morris and Marshall later in the week. For now, let's appreciate some love from non-Suns fans.


Back when the original Dream Team wore the uniforms Team USA donned today in Spain, opponents were so in awe of the American stars that some even snapped photographs from the bench. Now 20 years...

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PHOENIX — When you look at the composition of the Phoenix Suns’ roster, it seems obvious that Michael Beasley will be spending quite a bit of time at the small forward spot. After all, before...

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Markieff Morris played like NBA starter-material in summer league this past week.

After missing out on every early shooting-guard target (draft prospects Dion Waiters, Austin Rivers, Terrence Ross and Jeremy Lamb plus veterans Eric Gordon and O.J. Mayo), the Phoenix Suns implemented a safe fallback plan with a flexible two-year deal to Shannon Brown.

While Brown gets a reasonable $3.5 million for this season, what makes the deal a slam dunk is the structure in year two. The second year is under the Suns' control: keep Brown again at $3.5 million OR release him and have only $583,333 count against the cap in the next three years, thanks to the new "stretch" provision on released players. That's a great insurance policy right there.

After the Brown signing, the Suns have about $47 million committed to 2012-13, but only $42 million committed to the 2013-14 salary cap (before including draft picks). Warrick and Telfair come off the books, and as stated above Brown can count as little as half-million. That leaves at least $16 million to spend next summer on draft picks, amnesty claims, lop-sided trades or straight free-agent signings.

So it makes sense for the Suns to save their bullets. All the best free agents this summer are gone - at least, the ones deserving multi-year deals.

Now the Suns have a great deal of flexibility, this year AND next.

NBA teams are already feeling the pinch of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement - particularly the increasingly punitive costs of exceeding the luxury tax threshold ($70 million this year) that start ramping up a year from now. At that point, teams over the luxury tax are severely limited - inability to receive signed-and-traded players, smaller exceptions, increasingly higher luxury taxes and even a hard cap for those above the "apron" (four million over the luxury tax threshold).

The New York Knicks already declined to match offers to 23-year olds Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields and the Chicago Bulls just may do the same with Omer Asik, all because the third year of those deals would cost the tax-paying team as much as $45 million apiece in salary plus taxes in the third year!

That's just the trickle before the dam blows. Soon, many of the best NBA teams will be walking a tightrope between spending-to-contend and abandoning ship. Salary-dumping will happen. Under-the-cap teams like the Suns will get draft picks for taking on bad contracts, and some of those deals will include highly coveted players.

The Suns are in the driver's seat, as long as they maintain their patience. The Houston Rockets are staying as flexible as possible (to the extreme), and even the Dallas Mavericks are following the same model. Just like the Suns held onto Steve Nash as they turned over the roster around him, the Mavericks are swapping players all around Nowitzki.

The Suns, Rockets and Mavericks - and any teams like them - will struggle to win games as they wait for the big-spenders to start purging. Then it's an arms race to get the stars as they shake loose.

The Suns have 10 draft picks in the next three years. Even the second rounders are valuable, because a team taking on a salary in a one-sided trade has to give something back to make the trade legal and often that's a terrible draft pick.

The Suns also have some young prospects to send back to teams dumping their franchise player - Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall (and maybe Robin Lopez?) all have talent that scouts like.

The Suns also have $8 million in expiring/non-guaranteed deals at the moment (Sebastian Telfair, Hakim Warrick and Shannon Brown), soon to be $11-12 million once the Suns sign a couple of fringe players to round out the roster.

Depending on the final roster, the Suns will likely also have $7-8 million unspent cap space, perfect for a trade partner who wants to lower their own cap number this year.

The Suns have good contracts - midlevel players on midlevel deals - who can produce on any team in the NBA for several years. In particular, Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic and Luis Scola are all arguably more valuable than their contract.

And finally, the Suns owe nothing to nobody. After years of having to reconcile their heads with their hearts (Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire), the Suns can operate as a business from now on. Make trades when and where they are good for basketball reasons, without worry of community-wide repercussions.

So we can spend all summer projecting the win total of the 2011-12 Phoenix Suns, but that's secondary to rebuilding this team to a title contender.

The Suns need to get lucky.

As a wise person told me once: good luck is simply the intersection of preparation and opportunity. The Suns are preparing themselves. Let's hope they recognize the right opportunity when it presents itself.


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