Wednesday, April 26


NBA MVP Steve NashWell, it appears Steve Nash has worked his Canadian magic on the voters once again. Reports are circulating that Nash has won the MVP for the second consecutive season, boosting hopes for runty white guards all across North America.

I thought it might be interesting to compare Nash with LeBron James, who I consider to be the league's true MVP (with Kobe and Billups right behind). Specifically, let's look at that mystery called "most valuable." Every story you read in the next few weeks will center on how Nash boosted a team without Amare to a strong record, almost as if his surrounding cast was a bunch of stiffs straight out of the NBDL. But what if LBJ's teammates are worse; doesn't he deserve some credit as well? Here's a quick look at the two rosters:

2nd-best player:
Cleveland: Ilgauskas (15.6, 7.6 reb)
Phoenix: Marion (21.8, 11.8 reb)
Clearly, Marion is the better player, as he averages nearly as many blocks as the taller Ilgauskas, while grabbing an extra 1.5 steals, fewer TOs, and more points per shot.

3rd-best player:
Cleveland: Hughes (15.5, 4.5 reb)
Phoenix: Diaw (13.3, 6.9 reb)
A tougher call here. Diaw has never played this well in his career, so Nash has to get some credit for that. But the question is: Who’s a better player? Hughes.

4th-best player:
Cleveland: Gooden (10.7, 8.4 reb)
Phoenix: Bell (14.7, 2.5 3’s per game)
Again, a tough call. Bell’s Roland Rating is +.1, Gooden’s is -.4, which is essentially a toss-up. Interestingly, Bell’s stats are virtually identical to his previous campaigns, with the exception of him chucking up way more 3’s than ever before. I’ll call this one even.

5th-best player:
Cleveland: Snow (4.8, 4.2 assists)
Phoenix: Leandro Barbosa (9.3, 3.4 reb)
I had to mix this up a bit, as Barbosa isn’t really the 5th-best player, but it would be silly to match up Snow with Tim Thomas. Still, he is statistically superior to Snow.

6th-best player:
Cleveland: Flip Murray (13.5, 2.8 assists)
Phoneix: Kurt Thomas (8.6, 7.8 reb)
Again, no way you’d ever deal Murray for Thomas, unless Murray’s nickname reminds you of Flip Wilson and you’re looking for that whole nostalgia thing.

7th-best player:
Cleveland: Donyell Marshall (9.3, 6.1 reb)
Phoenix: Tim Thomas (11, 4.9 reb)
An interesting comparison. Both were top 10 picks, both have been considered something of a disappointment in their careers, although Marshall has been a consistent contributor throughout his tenure, while Thomas has been a salary cap menace to many teams. I think the majority of NBA GMs, in a world where the cap did not exist, would take Thomas.

That’s enough of the comparisons, as no one cares whether I think Anderson Varejao is better than Eddie House. The important point is that in four of the six comparisons, the Suns’ player was better, and in only one match-up was the Cavs’ player definitely superior (Hughes).

So, the result is that LBJ’s cast is easily worse than Nash’s, Amare or no Amare. And yet, James, who led his team to 50 wins is somehow less valuable than Nash, who led his team to 54? James, who scored 1,000 more points than Nash is less valuable? James, who averaged more steals and fewer turnovers than the “ultimate point guard” is less valuable? I don’t buy it.

I’m convinced that 20 or 30 years from now, basketball geeks will look back at these two trophies, look at Nash’s stats, and utter a collective, “Huh?”

Monday, April 24


Quite a bit has been made of the Sonics’ 14-11 finish to the season. Adding Chris Wilcox and Earl Watson seemed to spark Seattle down the stretch, causing no end to the speculation that it means next year will be a return Sonic playoff basketball.

But does it really mean anything? Does playing .500+ basketball in garbage time add up to anything substantial? Are there any examples of teams that played poorly one season, then rebounded the next to great heights? And how did they fare in the final 2 months of the season?

Well, let’s take a look at some recent teams that jumped from mediocrity to playoff standards in one season, the mitigating factors, and how they played down the stretch of the previous season (I limited it to the past two seasons because of laziness).

First, some parameters. We’re looking at teams that went from outside the playoff picture to inside, but weren’t propelled by the acquisition of a single player (e.g., LeBron, Shaq, Steve Nash,etc.) or injury (e.g., David Robinson), since the Sonics aren’t likely to add someone of that stature and they’re not looking at bringing back anyone from the injury list (with the exception of Shawn Kemp. Ahem.).

On to the teams:

2004-05 Chicago Bulls
Improvement: 24 wins
Factors: Added Ben Gordon
Final 25 games, previous year: 7-18
A fair comparison to the Sonics, in that they hired Scott Skiles the year before their improvement, who brought a new attitude to a team which was headed nowhere (a la the Sonics and Bob Hill/Bob Weiss).

2004-05 Washington Wizards
Improvement: 20 wins
Factors: Added Antawn Jamison
Final 25: 7-18
The Wizards were led by an improving Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes, and the addition of Jamison helped offset the loss of an injured Jerry Stackhouse from the previous year.

2004-05 Seattle Sonics
Improvement: 15 wins
Factors: Kismet and Danny Fortson
Final 25: 11-14
Perhaps you’ve heard of these guys. Having Ray Allen for a full season helped, but last year was a case where everything just sort of fell into place for the Sonics.

2003-04 Memphis Grizzlies
Improvement: 22 wins
Factors: Added Bonzi Wells and James Posey (!), Hubie Brown
Final 25: 10-15
The Grizzlies bought into Hubie’s brand of bench basketball, as a number of guys contributed to the team’s improvement, including a maturing Pau Gasol and one Earl Watson.

That’s obviously too small of a sample size to make any worthwhile deductions, but it does illustrate that finishing poorly does not GUARANTEE a poor finish the next season. One surface note from looking at those examples is three of the teams improved in no small part because of maturing young players.

How about the rest of the league, though? Were there any teams that played well down the stretch last year and finished out of the playoffs? How did they do this season?

Here are some answers. I looked at all teams’ records last year in the final 25 games, then compared it to this season (I left out such teams as San Antonio, Dallas, Miami, and Detroit because their performance is almost set in stone, and they may have been “coasting” into the playoffs).

What I found is that, in a nutshell, a team’s “Stretch Drive” (SD) performance had very little, if any, relevance to its performance during this season. For example, two teams with the better SD records (Houston and Golden St.) both finished out of the playoff picture, despite going a combined 39-11 in their final 25 games. Conversely, the Lakers and Milwaukee finished last season on a woeful 11-39 note, then rebounded to each make the playoffs.

Obviously, this scenario is fraught with complications. Injuries, trades, and other roster and coaching changes muddle the picture. Nonetheless, I think the implication that the Sonics’ stellar performance down the stretch indicates sunnier days ahead for Seattle is sorely misguided. IF Chris Wilcox is re-signed and matches his offensive performance, IF Ray Allen maintains his output despite advancing age, IF Bob Hill doesn’t begin to wear on the players, IF the Ridnour/Watson combination doesn’t become combustible because of the dangerous liquid known as playing time, and – most important – IF Swift/Petro continue to develop then YES, the Sonics can play well next year.

That’s a lot of ifs, though, and I would hazard a guess that with that in mind the Las Vegas oddsmakers won’t put the Sonic ’05-’06 win total too far north of 45 games. Neither would I.

Thursday, April 20

A Ray of Hope

Seattle SuperSonics' Ray Allen acknowledges the fans after setting an NBA record for 3-point baskets in a season in the first half of a NBA basketball game in Seattle on Wednesday, April 19, 2006. Allen made his 268th 3-point basket in the second quarter.<br />(AP Photo/Ron Wurzer)The season's over, but Ray once again made this team worth watching:
SEATTLE (AP) -- Ray Allen broke the NBA record for 3-pointers in a season, finishing with 269, and the Seattle SuperSonics wrapped up their disappointing season with a 109-98 victory over the playoff-bound Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Read the rest here.
Other great Ray moments from an otherwise forgettable season? How about his 42 points and game-winning shot in that insane double-overtime game against the Suns? Or what about his fight against the insane Keyon Dooling? Ah, such sweet memories.

So, what are your favorite moments of this terrible, terrible season? Danny Fortson fouling himself out so he could get back on the exercise bike? Bob Weiss' disappearing act? Let's hear it!

Wednesday, April 19

On the Side

The Sonics are due to play the final game of the season tonight against the Nuggets. After 81 games of band-aid-pulling pain, we fans will finally be rid of the horror that was the 2005-06 come about 10 pm tonight. Was it a good year? No. Were there memories to be had? Yes, but be sure to tune in next week for our full recap in the Sonic Yearbook.

But to more pressing matters: Jermaine O'Neal. According to Marc "I'm Not Making This Up!" Stein, O'Neal is rumored to be headed for Golden State. As a Sonic fan, let me say one thing: Rick Sund, pick up the phone!

Now, I don't know if Indiana is really interested in dealing the best young center in the NBA (I'm looking at you, Yao), but if they are the Sonics would be foolish not to take interest. Let's see, he blocks shots, scores down low, grabs rebounds, and plays hard. Um, can I have a second helping of that, please?

To make it work, the Sonics will need to throw a lot of salary back at Indiana, and that means either Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis. The key would be the Pacers' intentions with Peja Stojakovic. If Peja and the Pacers consummate their brief fling with a long-term deal, then there's no room in Indiana's inn for Lewis, and I can't see them wanting Allen, either. If, however, Peja winds up in Chicago as has been rumored, the Pacers wouldn't mind having Lewis to fill his spot. So, how about Lewis, Fortson, and either Petro or the #1 pick for O'Neal? It works economically and helps both teams.

Don't you love not being in the playoffs?

Monday, April 17

Bob the (re)Builder, Can He Fix It?

The Seattle Supersonics announced today that Bob Hill will be returning as head coach next season.

So, do you think Bob's late-season magic can carry over to next year, or do you think they should've held out for Larry "Emergency Room" Brown? Let the ranting begin!

Wednesday, April 12

No Quarter

At supersonicsoul, we're all about righting wrongs. You could say it's our Mission Statement. Our Paradigm. Our Core Value. We could say that, except none of us work in an office, and the guy at the corner store looked at me kind of funny when I asked him what his Mission Statement was, so I'm kind of fuzzy on the concept now.

In any event, last night on Fox 13 (I think their Mission Statement is "Our Anchors Are the Most Likely to Appear in Soft-Core Porn Within 7 Years"), they ran a piece on the new State of Washington quarter, and how this pressing bit of business is currently being studied by the Washington State Quarter Commission (Mission Statement: "Wasting Your Tax Dollars in an Efficient Manner").

Well, the designs they came up with are so lame I almost thought a Canadian team designed them. Seriously, a fish? Was lumberjack already taken? How about a bag of granola? Why don't we just put a latte and confirm all the dumb stereotypes the rest of the country already has about Washington?

Well, as per our Mission Statement, I'm righting the wrongs. Shown below are my 2 nominations for the new state quarter. They may be poorly done, but that's not my Mission Statement, so I don't really care.

Tuesday, April 11

Bruce Bowen: Moral Crusader

"There are a lot of people in the league who have lost a lot of respect for him. People are starting to see he's not so clean."
-Bruce Bowen, on Ray Allen

Um, yeah, okay, Bruce. I shouldn't slag Bowen too much, in that he came clean and owned up to his responsibility in the Spurs' loss to the Sonics on March 26th, when he and Allen got into a tussle and Bowen kicked Sugar Ray in the back. Bowen's kick prompted a technical and - later, thanks to a phone call from Allen to Stu Jackson - a $10,000 fine. Still, for Bruce Bowen to comment on another player's lack of cleanliness is somewhat silly.

Whatever the case, tonight's game should be more than the typical season-ending fare one would expect from a team out of the playoffs. The Sonics are ... well, they're not exactly on fire, but with four consecutive wins, they're at least moving from the "Low" part of the burner to around 5 or 6. The Spurs, meanwhile, are questing for playoff positioning, so the game means a huge amount to S.A.

Oh, and did I mention that Bob Hill still doesn't mail Gregg Popovich a Christmas card? Should be some kind of fun in the Alamo tonight. Top matchups:

1. Allen vs Bowen (natch)
2. Wilcox vs Duncan
3. Hill vs Pop
4. Frodo vs the Wee Frenchman
5. The Rim vs Brent Barry (sorry, couldn't help myself)

Monday, April 10

Luke and Earl

There was considerable talk around the time of the Earl Watson trade that this move was going to spur Luke Ridnour to greater heights; that the reason he wasn’t playing to the level people expected this season was because he lacked adequate motivation, unlike the past two seasons when Antonio Daniels was there to spur him on.

Well, has adding Watson made a difference? Let’s take a look.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ve marked the cutoff point as March 1st, even though Watson’s first game in a Sonic jersey came on February 28th. Actually, I did this because I’m too lazy to add up all of Ridnour’s stats from the beginning of the year through February 20th; it’s just too darn hard. It’s a lot easier just to take his numbers on a monthly basis.

Anyway, it’s a relatively small sample size (18 games) to look at, but the numbers do show some intriguing insights.

1. Luke Ridnour is having a terrible April. If you include the March 31 game against the Lakers when he went 0-for-8, Frodo has shot 15-for-43 in his last five games, which isn’t great even for 3-point range, let alone inside the arc. While his assist figures are still admirable, he’s been turning the ball over way more often this month than normal.
2. Overall, Watson’s arrival has put of an offensive push into Luke’s game, specifically the passing game. After averaging between 8.9 and 9.7 assist per 48 minutes for the first four months, Ridnour jumped out to 11.3 assists per 48 in March, without a corresponding increase in turnovers. That’s a great sign.
3. His three-point shooting is as inconsistent as ever. Here are Luke’s numbers per month from 3-point land, percentage-wise: 23, 31, 33, 16, 41, 14. That’s borderline Jason Kidd circa 1995. As a reference, here’s Earl Watson’s numbers this season: 33, 43, 39, 40, 39, 53. Much better, obviously.
4. Luke’s steals and points per 48 minutes are essentially unchanged.

But back to the point of the story: Has Watson’s presence made any difference in Ridnour’s game? The honest answer: No, at least beyond a decrease in minutes. Obviously, it will take more than 18 games to tell us the impact the one point guard has on the other, but from this vantage point it is clear that Watson is outperforming Ridnour, and that Watson’s arrival has not coincided with an improvement in Frodo’s game.

Whether Ridnour will continue to improve on his own just from maturity is unknown, and of that his detractors should take heed. However, it seems to be clear that adding Watson to the equation is not making difference.

Saturday, April 8

Weekend Update

That's the Magic Number
Yes it is
It's the magic number

Ah, nothing like three Sonic wins in a row to conjur up images of De La Soul and brighter times. Courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers (thanks, Nate!), Seattle grabbed their third consecutive win last night as Ray Allen caught fire, Chris Wilcox continued his improbable Karl Malone impersonation, and Earl Watson continued to be everything the Sonics could have hoped for as Seattle rolled to a 121-108 win on Friday night.

Kudos to Nick Collison for picking up the slack in suspended Rashard Lewis' absence, as the young Jayhawk posted 13 points and 6 boards in his first game back, and also posted the highest +/- on the team with +14 in only 20-odd minutes. With Johan Petro sidelined as well, Collison was at center quite a bit, and made the most of it, as he always seems to do. As much as Collison can be maligned for the faults in his game, the man is a dependable player who - while he gets in foul trouble way too quickly - is tough on defense, knows how to rebound, and can handle the rock.

Can the Sonics make it four straight? Well, they'll have to knock off the Suns on Sunday to do it, but there's always hope.

Friday, April 7


With this season drawing to a close and the playoffs merely a dream, I’m sure everyone is looking forward to next season. In amongst the draft hype of who the Sonics will pick this spring, you’ve got to wonder about the current roster, as well as people like Mickael Gelabale.

I know what you’re thinking: What’s a Mickael Gelabale? Well, he’s a 6’8” SG/SF with a massive wingspan who can hit jump shots, play tough defense, and handle the ball on occasion. He’s also a possibility for the Sonics’ roster next season after being drafted in the 2nd round last spring.

Currently, Gelabale is playing for Real Madrid in the European League, where he averaged 8 ppg in about 23 minutes during the regular season. Of note, he shot close to 50% from the field, including nearly 40% from 3 point range and 77% from the FT line. (Coincidentally, one of his teammates at RM is former Sonic tryout and ex-Duck Alex Scales).

Gelabale played solid minutes during the regular season, posting double-digits in scoring seven times, but has yet to reach double figures in the post-season, which is going on as I write this. In all honesty, his stats regressed from the previous year with Real Madrid, but it seems to be more of a fewer minutes situation than anything else.

Gelabale is like a combination of Damien Wilkins and Desmond Mason if you ask me. He can block a few shots, hit the occasional 3, hit his free throws, and play good perimeter defense. He’s hit a high percentage of his shots in the Euro league, but I’m curious if that’s because he’s able to get separation from people over there – something he would have more difficulty doing in the NBA. It’s worth noting that one of his teammates at RM is Louis Bullock (former Michigan star), who regularly scores 20+ points in the Euro League (just to give some frame of reference to Gelabale’s stats).

In reading about Gelabale, one nice thing about him that emerges is that he’s not the kind of player who forces a shot, something which would work to his advantage in Seattle. He’s never going to be option #1 or even #2 on offense as a Sonic, so if he can lay back and wait for his shot he can be effective, sort of the way Damien was last year in the playoffs. As someone who can slash to the hoop, hit 18-foot jumpers, or come off screens, Gelabale can score in the NBA. Whether he can hit the NBA 3 is yet to be seen. As a bonus, he has played the point on occasion for Real Madrid, and showed the ability to handle the ball with decent ability.

Thursday, April 6

FOR SALE - One Team, Slightly Used

The Seattle Sonics are for sale, but who's buying?The Sonics issued a press release Wednesday announcing that they are entertaining offers from prospective buyers.

In an even juicier bit, Schultz & Co. had to eat crow regarding Howie's ultimatum of "build it or we'll leave," issued on February 1st. According to the statement yesterday, "This ownership group has no interest in owning professional basketball franchises outside the state of Washington." Ah, yes, the sweet smell of failure.

Ironically, with the Blazers also up for sale, the two teams will now compete for buyers, meaning the "woe is me" campaigns will have to be curtailed, inasmuch as no buyer wants to hear the lousy deal he's getting. It's expected the Sonics could fetch anywhere from $300 to $400 million on the open market, which would help defray the "losses" Schultz' group has incurred.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 5

Danny Fortson: Cyborg Smasher, Part 2

Click thumbnail to view complete image.

At last! The thrilling conclusion to Danny Fortson: Cyborg Smasher Issue #1.

WARNING: Viewer discretion advised for filthy sailor talk and partial nudity (!)

Previous installments: Part 1 / Cover

Tuesday, April 4

Petro's Nose Surgery; Sikma Next?

Watch your back, Jack!First Robert Swift, now Johan Petro. As hard as it is to believe, both of Seattle's young centers have broken their noses this season, with Petro in line for surgery. Swift, a veteran of the process, told the Seattle Times that "[the doctors] will pop the bone back into place and he'll wear a mask for the rest of the season." Swift refused to comment on rumors that he paid Joel Pryzbilla $20 to break the nose. "That's just a bunch of internet gossip," Swift said. However, when you include Collison's broken nose last spring, you start thinking that something's up.

Whatever the case, Bob Hill may want to wear blinders when he watches the action in the middle tonight. With Petro out, Mikki Moore and Swift are the only guys left to "defend" Yao Ming. Luckily, T-Mac is out, although as Rashard Lewis is out as well, it's pretty much a wash. The Sonics are looking for revenge after getting hammered in Houston a week ago, and, hey, Rick Brunson's back in town! And Kevin Calabro will call another Sonic game! Who needs the playoffs with this intrigue!

Monday, April 3

Har-Har! Sonics knock Nate, Blazers

Some people might call the Sonics 122-83 blow-out win over the Portland Trailblazers an empty, meaningless game. Those people are retards.

After sticking it to the man (Nate) on Sunday, the Sonics improved to 9-7 since the trade deadline. The Blazers, meanwhile, have gone 2-15 during that time. Sure, the Blazers might have stolen our coach and sewn up the #1 pick in the lottery, but at least, for the moment, we can savor a rare rout of our most hated rival.

Now, bring on the next episode of Danny Fortson: Cyborg Hunter!