Miami Heat: Signing Sebastian Telfair Would Be Risky Move for Heat

Joshua J VannucciniSenior Analyst IIIAugust 14, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 24:  Sebastian Telfair #31 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the NBA game against the Los Angeles Clippers at US Airways Center on January 24, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Clippers 93-88.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After the unfortunate amnesty of swingman Mike Miller, the Miami Heat is left with a gap in their rotation. Their frontcourt is somewhat cemented with the recent signing of Greg Oden, which is a bold move to say the least. If it pays off, the move will surely swing in the favor of the Heat.

However, the backcourt remains shaky. The rumored signing of Sebastian Telfair will not solve the problem, either.

Miller's ability to play multiple positions was a valuable and underrated commodity for Miami. He started 17 games last season—more than his first two years in a Heat uniform combined—and provided a strong scoring option to close the season, as he averaged 12.1 points on 53.4 percent shooting. He knocked down an incredible 51.8 percent from long-range—which Miller upped to 61.1 percent in the Finals—making his amnesty even more devastating.

Now that Miller has signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami has a need to fill in its wing rotation. While he was a guard/forward, the potential acquisition of Telfair doesn't make sense in terms of plugging the hole Miller left.

Telfair has had a rocky career to say the least, after being pressured with high expectations early on. He's played with five teams over the past four seasons, starting a mere 12 games. While such a statistic is relatively negligible in what is currently a potential stint with the Heat, it's a relatively accurate portrayal of the player Telfair is.

While it certainly isn't mandatory, the Heat's offensive system really requires the wing players to possess a viable jumpshot. Telfair has been rather infamous in that regard, shooting just 32 percent from three-point range for his career, hitting below 30 percent through four seasons in his nine-year career.

The most intriguing aspect of Telfair's game is ultimately his ball handling and impact defensively. Had he registered enough playing time, Telfair's assist-to-turnover ratio would have ranked at 32nd in the league leaders, placing him ahead of fellow guards such as Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry.

On the other end, Telfair's efforts are decent despite his 6'0" frame. According to Synergy Sports, Telfair held opponents to 32.5 percent shooting on isolations. To compare this to perhaps the best one-on-one guard defender in the league in Tony Allen, Telfair's iso defense ranks well against Allen's 36.1 percent. 

It's an impossibility to claim Telfair is the superior defender, however the aforementioned statistics offer an example of how the guard can make an impact in the backcourt. Telfair also held opponents to 38.9 percent on pick-and-rolls, which is already an area where the Heat are strong. Adding him would only increase their effectiveness in guarding the pick-and-roll.

Signing Telfair would certainly be on a minimum deal, mostly to have insurance should Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole become injured. He could thrive or fail in Miami's offensive system, as his jumpshot could be his downfall. The ball would not be in his hands often enough to create with screens, if at all, however the Heat need very little assistance in that department with their current roster.

As previously stated, this rumored deal could go either way for both parties. Miami would essentially be playing four-on-five with Telfair on the floor, as he'd often play as an off-ball guard. In another sense, he could be signed to ride the bench and act as a back-up plan if someone falls injured.

Telfair isn't considered a defensive specialist, and wouldn't act as one with the Heat. However, if Miami is after a back-up guard who can play the point, Telfair can fit the bill just fine.

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