Thursday, October 6
With training camp opening on Tuesday, the Sonics have a handful of players unfamiliar to most of us joining such stalwarts as Allen and Lewis. I’ll try to post some follow-ups as camp progesses to fill you on the rest of the unknowns:
OMAR THOMAS – 6’5”, SG, UTEP, 23 years old
Thomas is not much of a 3-point shooter, or at least he was discouraged from taking them at college. Born in Philly (he even went to the same high school as Flip Murray), Thomas overcame an incredibly difficult childhood that saw his father and two brothers imprisoned for murder. ... Averaged 20 points and nearly 7 boards per game for UTEP last year ... A strong player in the paint and a solid foul shooter, Thomas can draw fouls well for a smaller man. ... Thomas was a monster in junior college, averaging close to 35 points over the course of two seasons.
COMPARISON – Damien Wilkins, without as much D and better touch from the line. In fact, if Thomas can play any D at all, I’d rather have him than the Omen any day. It brings up an interesting side-point: How to college stats translate to the NBA? I think, to some degree, they do give us an impression of how a player will fare in the league. For example, at Georgia, Wilkins was a poor outside shooter who improved his foul shooting as his career wore on. In the NBA, Wilkins was/is a poor outside shooter who did very poorly at the line. His extended stats (e.g., steals, rebounds, etc.) also correlate somewhat from the college ranks.
That’s just a long-winded reason from me as to why the Sonics messed up in offering Wilkins a 5-year deal. Guys such as Wilkins – while talented – do not merit long-term deals, especially when there are Omar Thomases in every draft. Considering Wilkins will likely never start for the Sonics (unless Rashard Lewis is hit by a bus or leaves as a free agent), it seems foolish to me for Seattle to give him a long-term deal and thereby hinder their future financial flexibility.
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Not exactly a surprise, but the sonics picked up the options on Luke and Nick today.
What about Damien playing two guard and having Ray bring the ball up when Luke is out of the game? Maybe run cuts off Nick in the post and turn him into the original Vlade-dade?
I like Wilkins's D, if he can turn into a shutdown type defender - which I think he can, there must be a way to get him on the court. Especially with the lack of shotblocking this year, we need someone to lock down the perimeter.
I would like to see Wilkins and hopefully Evans coming off the bench and frustrating opponents for years to come. If Swift truly develops he should be a great shot blocker, as that is his best skill by far. With him, the athletic Petro, the superb defensive Collison, and Evans we could eventually have a good defensive team! Or not, with Luke and Ray at the guard spots...
Reggie Evans should start at power forward. Last year, at the four slot, it worked out well when Evans played the first half of each quater, while Nick Collison finished off the last half of each quarter. Danny Fortson (2005-2006: $6,415,584; 2006-2007: $6,919,091)*, on the other hand, should not be on the team; he and the $13,334,675 that he's slated to earn during the next two seasons ought to be immediately traded, if at all possible, to a team that's willing to give up an expiring contract.
At this moment, Damien Wilkins should be in Minnesota. There was no reason to overpay him (five years, $14.5 million) to play anywhere from 12-16 minutes a game backing up Rashard Lewis. Anyhow, in regards to Wilkins' ability, the only talent he has concerns his on-the-ball defense. Otherwise, aside from Wilkins' stellar skills concerning his defenseive prowess, he is a horrid shooter (FG: 43.5%; 3PT-FG: 27.1%; FT: 61.8%), a piss-poor ball-handler (assists to turnover ratio: 1.625 to 1), an inefficient player (+6.31 efficiency rating), and an all-around hinderance to the team (-11.7 +/- ranking).
In the end, though, the only two mistakes that Rick Sund made this off-season were that of re-signing Wilkins and slightly overpaying Vitaly Potapenko (two years, $6.315 million). Fortunately, however, the likes of Vladimir Radmanovic, Evans, and Ronald Murray, for whatever inexplicable reason, signed the qualifying offers that the team tendered them.
People keep citing Wilkins' Roland Rating as if it has meaning when it has very little, if any.
The vast majority of Wilkins' minutes came in the absence of Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic because of injuries. Wilkins' rating is much more a reflection on their importance to the team than it is to Wilkins' ability.
If your reference point is Lewis and Radmanovic, no, Wilkins is not as good. If your reference is the already-departed Omar Thomas, that's a very different story altogether.
AK1984, Fortson is a free agent after this year if I am not mistaken.
And Nuss, I hate to tell you but Omar got released to make room for Reggie.
Ouch. Sorry, Omar, we hardly knew ye.
I happen to think that Wilkins numbers are skewed because he did not play a full season... Until that Portland game, he basically had no stats at all.
When I look at him while he plays, I think he really has game. He looks remarkably like his old man in the way he moves on the court, especially offensively (for those of you who don't know, we are talking about Gerald Wilkins here...)
Stats aside, I am anxious to see what he can bring to the table when he gets into any kind of set minutes or rotation...
He is a poor mans (maybe not anymore with the new contract) Desmond Mason, and I like that he was into the game even when he wasn't playing. Every game him and Mateen Cleaves would be standing and yelling encouragement to the Sonics on the floor. As a fan, I appreciate the players that pay attention, too many times you look down at the other teams bench and the players not in the game are looking around the arena, or picking their nails, or just talking to the guy next to them. No cheering, no high fives for the guys off the floor, just nothing. I know it sounds corny, but the Sonics last year really did have good team chemistry, the guys seemed to generaly like each other and encourage each other, and I think that plays into what happens on the floor. There are more than a few teams in the league that have better players than the Sonics, but have no chemistry, and it shows, in the standings and in the way they play.
If Flip truly is a servicable replacement to AD then we are going to have another great year. Thats a mighty big if, but he should enjoy an uptempo offensive scheme.
Ronald "Flip" Murray should not see one minute at the point; Luke Ridnour, Rick Brunson, and Mateen Cleaves, unlike "Flip," are team players. The only thing "Flip" ought to do is provide a scoring punch when Ray Allen rests on the bench.
AK, I rarley agree with you (its OK, we're in America), but this is one time you are spot on. Flip is purley in it for Flip. His shot taken to assist ratio is higher than Rays.
And Ray is our first option. Flip clearly is not, and shouldn't be, ever.
You have to figure that Wilkins' offer sheet was not prohibitively expensive. Even if it's a relatively long-term, it's still a contract that will be tradeable.
John Hollinger makes an interesting point about Fortson's playing time in Forecast 2005-6. He says it's nuts to use the foul machine at the ends of corners when the Sonics opponent may be in the bonus. Therefore, Fortson should play at the beginnings of periods when his fouls won't hurt the team as much. Any thoughts?
I wouldn't use his fouls at the beginning of a quarter, that would put the other team into bonus to quickly. I would use them after they get into bonus. If they are going to go to the line anyway, make them think twice about cutting into the lane. Maybe a few hard fouls will make the opponent shoot jumpers instead.
Some nice insights there from both of you. In a way, both of you are right; using Fortson early in the quarter only hastens opposition bonus opportunities, while using him late means more opportunities after the bonus is on. What's the best use, then?
To me, Weiss has got to put blinders on when it comes to Da Fort. In a way it's somewhat like how I feel when I fill up my Buick. With a thirsty 3.8L engine, it's not doing me any favors at the pump these days. The only way to deal with it is to reconcile the high cost of refills with the enjoyment of using the car. Yes, Fortson will kill us by taking stupid fouls and getting the Sonics in foul trouble, but he will also provide a deterrent to smaller guys in the lane, and generally rev up the crowd and his teammates. Just like John Salley, Dennis Rodman, or any other banger, Fortson is full of pros and cons.
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