Telfair is improving by the game. Keep it up, Bassy! Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Is Sebastian Telfair one of the best backup point guards to Steve Nash since Nash returned to the Suns in 2004?

He certainly has played well recently, most notably in big wins this past week over the Jazz (9 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and a block), Lakers (13 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals) and Timberwolves (14 points, 7 assists, 2 steals and a block), all in about 20 minutes a game.

Telfair is one of the Suns' most improved players since the All-Star break, producing more points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks each game while shooting at a higher percentage in those all-important minutes when Nash is resting.

He is feisty on defense, creating havoc for the ball-handler and producing steals at a high rate. And now he is being more aggressive each game, making his presence known in the second and fourth quarters. As a unit, the Suns second team has begun to produce winning results, staking the starters to a 4th-quarter lead in nearly every game lately against stiff competition.

Building on a lead is important for the second unit, considering Nash and Co. don't always come back as fresh in the second and fourth quarters as when they started each half. Telfair's unit has helped the Suns in the win column as well, contributing to the 18-8 run since just before the All-Star break.

But where does Bassy rank in terms of Nash's other backups these last few years? Hit the jump to find out.

Below is a table from showing all the backups to Steve Nash since 2004, broken down by season, for players who appeared in at least 10 games. Not a distinguished list, to be sure.

You'll see fan favorites Leandro Barbosa and Goran Dragic at the top of the list, of course. But you'll also see guys like Zabian Dowdell, Eddie House, Ronnie Price, Marcus Banks and Aaron Brooks.


Leandro Barbosa was by far the Suns best backup PG, and he wasn't even really a point guard! At least some of his minutes each game since 2004-05 were played at shooting guard alongside Nash. Eddie House ranks high as well, despite not being a true PG either.

And while Aaron Brooks is fairly reviled on this board as an undersized shooting guard, his assist rate as the Suns' backup PG last year was higher than any Suns backup PG since Nash returned to the Valley. By far.

It is really difficult to back up Steve Nash because Nash has a unique and highly effective style that teammates love because he sets them up so well for easy scores. Any backup pales in comparison, especially if they try too hard to imitate the Nash Rambler, and generally take a long time to acclimate themselves into a successful role. Take a look at the first season for each of those guys in Nash's shadow, all clustered at the bottom of the list.

A couple more things jump out at me on this list:

  • The Suns have never given the backup PG a real chance to shine. Other than Barbosa, not one of them started more than 5 games in a season, or averaged even close to 20 minutes a game. And many of Barbosa's starts were at shooting guard.
  • The best backup PGs have been, in order: Barbosa, Dragic then Brooks.
  • Telfair is possibly the best of the rest of journeymen that follow those three.
So, is Sebastian Telfair the best backup ever? No.

Is he better than Price, Banks, Dowdell and House? Yes.

Is he holding his own in each game, while Nash is resting? Yes.

While I was not excited about Telfair as the Suns' backup this season, he has really held his own this season and is improving by the week. He plays both ends of the court, and brings a certain swagger to the team. It's taken him only half a lockout-shortened season to find his game, and now he is producing at a high clip for the Suns most every night.

Let's hope he can keep it up for the last 9 games while the Suns earn themselves a playoff spot.

Once again, opposing teams are shaking their heads at the Suns' depth, wondering how the Suns are playing so darn well with such a journeyman squad. Most of them credit all of the Suns' wins to Nash, but really you have to spread the credit to the rest of the team and the coaching staff.

And maybe even a sprinkle of credit goes to the Suns' front office for signing Shannon Brown, Michael Redd and Sebastian Telfair for less aggregate salary than Josh Childress makes this season.

Because watching the Phoenix Suns dismantle the Minnesota Timberwolves was so much fun the first time, why not re-live the highlights.

Even the Timberwolves dancers are cheering for Grant.

(SB Nation Arizona, Seth Pollack) It's pretty hard to keep Grant Hill off the court. Over the last few years this has been a running joke with Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry who "battles" with his aging star to even limit Grant's floor time in practice. So it's no surprise to hear that Hill is close to returning to the court for the Suns just a few weeks after having the meniscus in his knee repaired on March 30.

During the ESPN broadcast of the Suns win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, Hill said that he would like to play as soon as Saturday in San Antonio. He admitted, however, that the team would probably like to wait a bit longer.

The Arizona Republic is also reporting that Monday's home game against the Portland Trail Blazers is a more realistic target date. Here's an update on Hill's rehab from the Republic:

Suns' Grant Hill could return next week vs. Portland
Hill went through a rigorous pregame workout Monday night of plyometics, sprints and shooting that had him drenched in sweat. Earlier Monday, Hill did a workout of lateral basketball movements for the first time.

Complicating matters to some small degree has been the performance of the team without Hill. The Suns are 5-3 since Grant last played and 5-1 over their last six games. Shannon Brown and Michael Redd have stepped up and played well.

Brown, as a starter in place of Hill, is averaging 17.4 points in 10 games as a starter and shooting an efficient 45 percent from the field. He's also handling the ball more and dishing assists and playing well within the flow of the offense.

Hill, however, is still a premier perimeter defender and will almost certainly return to the starting lineup when ready although it's possible that his minutes will be limited depending on match ups and game situation.

The Phoenix Suns were ruthlessly efficient from start to finish as they dismantled the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-90 Monday night. The Suns won for the fifth time in April thanks to 57 percent...

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Caption contest! What is Shannon Brown saying here?

Coming off of their highest offensive output of the season in Saturday's 125-105 win over the Lakers, the Suns again lit up the scoreboard in Minnesota tonight, winning 114-90 behind more excellent bench play and double-digit scoring from five players.

Shannon Brown continued his prolific scoring since he entered the starting lineup with 17, rookie Markieff Morris went for 21 and Sebastian Telfair had one of his finest games as a member of the team with 14 points and seven assists. Effective bench play allowed the Suns to play all of their starters fewer than 30 minutes.

The Wolves were led by Kevin Love's 25 points and 13 rebounds but the Suns threw a few different players at him defensively and held Love to 7-19 shooting. This wasn't much of a contest from the second quarter on, after the Suns bench came in and built a lead that got as large as 15 in the first half. A small Wolves push to close the first half and start the second brought them as close as 56-51 before a 15-2 Phoenix run buried Minnesota for good at 71-53.

The win was the Suns second in a row, 7th out of their last 10 games, and pushes them three games over .500 for the first time this season. But wins by the Nuggets and Jazz leave the Suns in 9th place in the West, one game out of the final playoff spot. They did gain a 1/2 game on the idle Mavericks and are also one game behind them for the 7th spot.

Follow the jump for more notes and the roll call.

  • Bench play was again the difference for the Suns, as they outscored the Wolves bench 66-27, with Morris and Telfair leading the way. What has gotten into these guys? A weakness for most of the season, the Suns bench has more than carried their share of the load in the last two games, both must-wins.
  • As much as we want to celebrate this effort, and it was impressive in a few ways, the Wolves are a team that is both banged up and looks to be mailing it in at this point. Outside of Love, they put up little resistance.
  • Nikola Pekovic again gave Marcin Gortat problems, as Gortat committed 3 personal fouls in the first half and scored only four points in 21 minutes. But he did grab seven rebounds, and Robin Lopez filled in well with strong post defense and three blocked shots.
  • With Shannon Brown playing so well as a starter and Redd rounding into condition, the Suns have not missed Grant Hill as much as we had feared. Paul Coro reported that Hill worked out hard before the game and looks to be close to returning, so it will be a nice problem for Gentry to have to decide how to divvy up those wing minutes.

    @realgranthill33 just worked out so hard that he was sweating like @Channing_Frye. Sprints, shots, side to side. He is getting close.

    — Paul Coro (@paulcoro) April 10, 2012
  • With 21 points tonight, Morris has now scored in double figures in three of his five games since returning from the flu. He looked to have hit a rookie wall in mid-March but he's producing as well as he has all season now.

Roll Call: twitte07, Aztiramtempe, noonoo, jc79, phxpurple, shawndy, atkammoh, sonicking, Dickwan Sasser, rsavaj, wedge1039, thedoovage, Catamaran1, waxmonkey, jatrex4suns, Antwuan, East Bay Ray, JoeWisco, Turambar, paulimer, ThatOtherCanadianKid, Airwave, PhoenixSons, nashisamazing, DukeNukeco, nashran3, ericscholwinski, Piotr Szczesniak, Suns2flyy, brian13, PHXSunsRunNGun, suns68, SS21, Scott Howard, SUNS PORTUGAL, Chafid Ahmad, troglodytes, Mint, suns90, marionette, Toon Army Sun, Colton Dodson, 2NASHTY, PatrickPetersonAZ, Fritzy, NashMV3, SmokinKieff, Not Disclosing My Name, BringBackBarkley17, modernage13, Dragic_is_Magic, 7footer, KnowGood, sreekar13, MMotherwell, STUPID KERR, blank_38, WilliAG, KholdStare88, blanke, Cynical Jason, haremoor, Omaha Sun (in spirit)
Total Users: 62 (+1 in spirit)
Total Posts: 708
Total Threads: 2

Name # of Posts
atkammoh 63
Antwuan 55
phxpurple 55
PhoenixSons 43
twitte07 38
brian13 35
jc79 29
Aztiramtempe 26
waxmonkey 24
JoeWisco 23
Dickwan Sasser 22
MMotherwell 22
PHXSunsRunNGun 20
East Bay Ray 19
noonoo 17
wedge1039 16
Scott Howard 14
Airwave 12
thedoovage 12
nashisamazing 11
paulimer 11
Piotr Szczesniak 10
sonicking 7
rsavaj 7
jatrex4suns 6
blank_38 6
Dragic_is_Magic 6
ericscholwinski 6
Toon Army Sun 6
troglodytes 5
Not Disclosing My Name 5
Suns2flyy 5
Turambar 5
suns68 4
blanke 4
DukeNukeco 4
ThatOtherCanadianKid 4
Chafid Ahmad 4
PatrickPetersonAZ 3
marionette 3
NashMV3 2
SmokinKieff 2
SS21 2
Fritzy 2
shawndy 2
nashran3 2
sreekar13 2
WilliAG 1
KholdStare88 1
Cynical Jason 1
haremoor 1
Mint 1
Colton Dodson 1
suns90 1
Catamaran1 1
BringBackBarkley17 1
7footer 1
modernage13 1
KnowGood 1

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