A couple of weeks ago, we invited a fellow blogger to post a story on Supersonicsoul. This week, we recieved this piece from one of our loyal readers, Booth52:
A Sonics Playoff Preview Precursor:
With the Playoffs looming over the horizon I thought I’d take the opportunity to throw in my two pennies on the Sonics and their a) recent struggles and, of more interest to me, b) their chances in the playoffs. I thought I’d drop a post here and should you deem it at all interesting/post-worthy, I’d like to tackle a few other Sonic-subjects in more depth.
Quick side note: I really have no desire to add to the crowded field of Sonics blogs (for which I’m grateful to both sites for) out in this here internet thing. If anything I’d love to enrich the site with my humble opinions on the team, sending in some posts from time to time. My inspiration spawned off of reading an Oakland athletics website you may have heard of (www.athleticsnation.com) and the game threads of red sox games by the diehard redsox fans at sosh. I read a bunch of other nba blogs and they seem to be in their infancy stage when compared to other more established sites with regards to a community vibe. Anyways here’s my first attempt at a post.
Stating The Obvious:
First off, a brief response to the Sonics recent struggles. The team is in the midst of a 4 game losing streak. In reality, they have been playing mediocre to awful basketball for a longer period than that.
Over the past 7 games, the Sonics have compiled a 2-5 record. If we are seriously evaluating the skid, we should count them for at most a 1-6 record since at least one of the two victories vs. Memphis and, Portland, should have really been discounted considering their poor play.
But, for my amusement, let’s go back a bit further say, how about 13 games? Their record since then: a very pedestrian 9-7. Some interesting tidbits:
PPG All: 99.8
Sonics post-3/18: (13 games total as of April 10)
PPG: 95.1 (not including 14 points scored in overtime vs. NY, 7 of which came via the charity stripe with the Supes up by 5 with 38 seconds to play)
PPG All: 99.8 (Our recent defensive inadequacies will conservatively and mercifully be ignored for simplicity of comparison)
That PPG differential comes out to 5.4. For those that don’t consider that to be much let’s put that into context for the season: overall the Sonics (50-26) have, up to this point averaged 99.5ppg scored and 96.9ppg allowed. If we were to find a team who gave up a similar amount of points and scored roughly 94.1ppg(99.5-5.4) what would we come up with? How about this team (93.4ppg, 97.4ppga)?
So exactly what separates the previous team, that was (record wise at least) making claims to being one of the top 4 teams in the league, to one now garnering comparisons to the 4th worst team? Simple: Their names are Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic. Since Lewis’ injury the Supes have thrown together that 2-5 record (again, realistically 1-6 or 0-7) and since Vlad was sidelined with a stress fracture on his right leg, the Sonics have made 3 less treys a game and scored on average 5 less points a game. I cannot stress enough the Radman’s importance to the team, particularly by forcing the opponents to extend their defense, having a normally paint roaming potential rebounder, shot blocking/averting 3-4-5 man having to respect Vlad’s 3pt shooting ability. Not to provide some generic tv broadcaster’s response, but he simply makes that offense flow better.
So again you might ask, what the hell’s your point? Simply put, the current state of guarded pessimism taken on by Superfriends everywhere is a bit misdirected at this current time towards the nosedive the team is in. I don’t consider the slide any indication at all of the team’s ability to win (in the playoffs). I don’t care if the team as is loses by 3 or 30 to the Lakers, cause they ain’t gonna do s*** in the playoffs as is. Rashard is expected to return after a few more games, and Vlad’s tour of duty in IR is scheduled to end either today (if you believe the 4 week timeline) or by the start of the playoffs. What is of importance is the team’s ability to re-incorporate two of their most important players back into the fold, and to again develop that chemistry that made the offensive execution a thing of beauty during the first half of the season. If they’re not able to do this, consider the Season record your only present year, cause the Sonics ain’t going nowhere in the playoffs without a little of that magic they conjured up in the beginning of the season.
Some opinions/topics I’d love to drop an analysis on or merely ramble on about Simmons style:
-Damien Wilkins Has played himself into some quality P.T. for the team. He and A.D. are the team’s top perimeter defenders, and he should be used accordingly for certain player matchups. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: 12-15 minutes max young man, you ain’t your uncle.
-Rashard Lewis on the right side posting up should, in all circumstances, be considered the Sonics offensive option #1. (Just for the record, if you had told me 2 years ago that Lewis would have one of the top 20 most efficient iso-post up games in the league I would have simply laughed at you. If you had told me that six years ago, after the sonics put him out of his draft day misery, I would’ve strongly considered offering to purchase your medication.)
-In particular, the most efficient offensive play the Supes have in their playbook is A.D. and Lew isolated on one side, executing the pick and post to perfection, leaving either Lewis on the block with an undersized guard on him (can I get a “mouse in the house” comment from Calabro? Amen, brotha.), or A.D. wrecking havoc driving into the lane.
-Luke Ridnour is highly overrated, and much of it is due to his skin tone (No, I am not Spike Lee under a pseudonym, defaming yet another white player.) Hearing Ehlo and Kevin drool over the guy eerily reminds me of McCarver and Joe Morgan going gaga over the intangibles of Derek Jeter.
-Ridnour’s deficiencies on the defensive end are most evident against quick, penetrating, offensive minded guards. (Interpretation: get him the hell out of there against the Parker’s, Marbury’s, and Franchises of the League) His inabilities to work the A.D/Lew Pick and finish in the lane are often understated. (Note to Ehlo: driving into the paint, not having the offensive ability to create/score, BUT being able to continue your dribble, is not a basketball talent to be praised.)
-Damien Wilkins Has played himself into some quality P.T. for the team. He and A.D. are the team’s top perimeter defenders, and he should be used accordingly for certain player matchups.
-I am absolutely dumbfounded by Ronald Murray and have no idea if he would be a legitimate star in this league with some decent playing time.
-Jerome James, at best, is an average to slightly above average center. Unfortunately, THAT is the Bizzaro Jerome James, and he only makes an appearance approximately 1 in 10 games. The first few minutes of each game should be spent by Mac-10 determining if the alter ego has shown up and act accordingly, providing Matteen Cleaves a clapping, chest bumping-during timeouts sidekick.
-SuperDanny (He of the 10pts, 8+ rebounds, 3+ offensive rebounds resulting in putback attempts resulting in two free throws and the occasional And-1 situations performances) NEVER appears in the same game that Bizarro James shows up in. Furthermore, +/- Uber-Collison of recent playing time, has miraculously emerged to alleviate the mysterious disappearance of SuperDanny. While John Hollinger of ESPN.com briefly touched on the scary potential of a Reggie-Forston rebound transformer, he’s merely scratched the tip of the iceberg. If someone can debunk my theory that Bizarro Jerome-Uber-Collison-SuperDanny & Reggie all actually share the same brain and merely barter it off at the bench during timeouts, please notify me ASAP. Evidence will be required.
-Signing Ray Allen to a 4 (or worse 5) year contract beyond $75M would be a mistake of McIlvaine-esque proportions. I will not argue about this. Contending for a 8-5 seed in the playoffs over the next 4 years and then moving into a rebuilding mode is not what I consider success. All personnel moves should be made with the sole purpose of leading towards a team capable of contending for a title. A Lewis-Aging Allen combo with intermediate surrounding players taking up the rest of the meager cap space WILL NOT provide for this requirement.
More ramblings to come.