As the regular season draws closer and closer, it’s inevitable that we’d come out with our predictions for the season. Upcoming articles will detail the season more, but here are some quick glimpses at what I expect to see this year, the 40th in Sonic History.
BEST FRENCH-SPEAKING PLAYER: You’d expect a 2nd-year guy to win this, but I’m going with the rookie, Mickael Gelabale. Petro still seems so raw that I don’t expect him to get more than 10-15 minutes a night, while Gelabale could wind up supplanting Damien Wilkins in the rotation and becoming the regular backup to Ray Allen.
WORST STRETCH OF THE YEAR: Mid-December. The Sonics play consecutive road games against Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Memphis, before returning home to face Dallas. The Sonics would never have faced such a horrific Hannukah schedule if a Jewish guy owned the team ...
STEP FORWARD: I’d love to say Robert Swift, but I still think he’s too young to really make the leap this year. I’d also love to say Chris Wilcox, and I suppose going from a string of DNPs in L.A. to averaging 8 points and 8 boards would be an improvement. I still don’t buy into Wilcox being an above-average PF in this league, but just the simple fact he’s going to get minutes this year means his numbers will improve, at least relative to the rest of his career.
STEP BACKWARDS: I hate to say it, but Ray Allen is due for a come-down from his 25 ppg last season. His age (31) merits fewer minutes than the 39 he averaged last year, and shooting guards always begin a decline phase of their careers at around the 30-32 year mark. Allen is a remarkably-conditioned man, so perhaps he can forestall Father Time, but I’m not betting on it.
FIRST PLAYER TRADED: The smart money is on Danny Fortson to be traded at some point this year – but will he be the first to go? Wilkins’ relatively inexpensive contract makes him palatable to other clubs, but Fortson’s presence on a team with a surplus of big men has him the most likely to go first.
RECORD AT THE END OF NOVEMBER: 8-8.
RECORD AT THE END OF DECEMBER: 14-18.
TOTAL WINS: 37. Think I’m being pessimistic? Check the Vegas lines, folks. There are 3 teams with longer odds to win the title than Seattle (currently at 115/1): Portland, Charlotte, and Atlanta. People, when you’re in the same sentence with those clubs, you are in a world of trouble. Right now, the Sonics are sitting at 35 ½ on total wins this year in the sports books – personally, I think that’s overly negative, and I’d expect the Sonics to do better than that, but not a whole lot better.