Like most of you, I’ve been puzzled by the Sonics’ start to the season. The same team that nearly sweeps the Heat and Magic and destroys the Nets on the road loses to the Kings at home? How does a running team score 78 points? Whose hair is longest: Gelabale or Fortson?
Difficult questions, but let’s try to ascertain what’s going on in Sonic wins and losses. To wit:
1. Rashard Lewis is shooting 49% on 3’s in wins; 37% in losses
2. Johan Petro shoots 54% in wins, 35% in losses
3. Luke Ridnour hits 53% of 3’s in wins; 37% in losses
4. Chris Wilcox gets 9 FGA in wins; 7 in losses
5. Damien Wilkins averages a steal every 15 minutes in wins; every 30 in losses
There are more stats to look at, but I think it’s important to note that it’s unrealistic to expect Rashard Lewis and Luke Ridnour to hit 50% of their 3-point attempts this year. In fact, it’s flat-out impossible. Yet, unless they do, the Sonics struggle to score.
In looking at those stats, I’d recommend the following to shake this team out of its’ current 5-losses-in-7-games slump:
1. Give Watson more minutes. Earl is not as bad as he’s shown so far. For the same reason that Ray Allen is allowed to keep chucking when he’s hit 4 of 18, Earl needs to be allowed to keep playing. Now, that doesn’t mean Watson gets to take 3’s with 18 seconds on the shot clock, but if Hill can sit down with Watson and tell him that he’s going to be playing 20-25 minutes every night, regardless of the FG%, it will help the team.
2. Beat Wilcox over the head until he understands that this team needs him to take shots outside of fast breaks or put-back dunks. Force Ridnour to feed Weezy the ball down low at least once a quarter.
3. Allow Petro to keep screwing up. At this point, he’s our only legit big man. We have to pray that the good games eventually start to outnumber the bad.
4. Decrease Ray Allen’s minutes and allow Wilkins and/or Gelabale to play some more.
5. Finally, make up your mind with Danny Fortson. Explain to Danny that if he keeps his head about him, he’s going to get 10-15 minutes a night this year. The Sonics need a backup big man after Nick Collison’s graduation summa cum laude from the Benoit Benjamin School of Infuriating Big Men, and Fortson is helpful on the boards and scoring garbage points in the paint.
Easy, breezy. 5 Simple Steps to Make the Sonics Better. Tomorrow’s game against Orlando will be a real test for this team and the Bob Hill tenure as the coach. If the Sonics drop this one, and the bench fails to get the minutes they think they deserve, the sharks will smell the blood in the water.