I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the direction the Sonics should take with their two second-round picks. One player who intrigued me was Brandon Rush, who, naturally, decided last week to stay in Kansas for another season, reasoning that another good year at KU would ratchet his selection number up a few spaces.
Honestly, I’m really not all that thrilled about picking Aaron Gray (although I’ll admit he was fantastic in Buck Rogers), and the point guards available at that point in the draft just don’t strike me as helpful to this roster. At first glance, the best option for the Sonics seemed to be a combo guard a la Antonio Daniels, something that Rush would have fit well.
But it got me to thinking, “What about Mickael Gelabale and Damien Wilkins?” Which further led down the path to, “Which of those two guys had a better season, and who are we better off with going forward?”
Those are two tough questions, but let me throw out a couple of things first:
1. Damien Wilkins made some huge improvements in his game this year, improvements that were lost amidst the gloom of the 06-07 year. First, he continued his remarkable free throw transformation, improving from 62% his rookie year to 84% last year to 88% this year, good for 9th-best in the NBA. Second, he shot 41% on 3PA, easily the best mark of his career. Considering he had never cracked 30% going into the season, that’s an incredible improvement.
2. After sinking 2 3’s in the first three months of the season, Gelabale nailed 4 in March and 5 in April.
3. Per 40 minutes, Wilkins posted better numbers in steals, assists, points, and FTA. Gelly had the edge in blocks and rebounds (he also drew more fouls per shot than Damien). Wilkins also gets off 3 more shots per 40 minutes.
4. Damien Wilkins went to the same high school in Florida as Johnny Damon, Wayne Brady, Joey Fatone, and AJ Pierzynski. Just so you know.
It’s tough to compare the two, inasmuch as Gelabale is a young man from another country with limited experience in the NBA game, while Wilkins is now a 3-year vet, whose father and uncle both played in the league.
Even with his strong numbers, for some reason Wilkins left us wanting this year. But if you really look at the numbers, it seems pretty clear that whoever the Sonics find in the draft, he’s not going to be a huge improvement over Wilkins, assuming Damien maintains something close to his shooting percentage on 3’s next year (which is a big assumption, I know).
As for +/- stats, Gelabale was the clear winner (the Sonics outscored opponents by .3 points while he was in, while Wilkins had a -6.2 mark). Further, his block percentage was double Wilkins’, and he did that without a concurrent increase in fouls committed, a remarkable accomplishment for a rookie player. Because he didn’t handle the ball as much, he didn’t turn it over as much, either.
Of course, the area statistics don’t cover is energy, and Gelly seems to have that in spades over Wilkins. From his hair to his Plastic Man-like body, Gelabale seemed to be at all places on the court when Bob Hill relented to playing him last year. And while his youthful exuberance got him into trouble on numerous occasions, he left fans with some hope for the coming season.
For that reason, it seems like Gelly deserves to get the backup role behind Allen next year. The two big questions will be if he can hit the 3 and if he can play the point. If Mickael can take a lesson from Damien and figure out a way improve his shooting, while also proving he can handle the ball as a point guard, the Sonics will be in good shape for the next few years with Gelly.
Mickael is not a PG but he was sometimes used as a Point Forward in France.
His handling is already quite good
My votes for who we pick up...
First, I agree that I'm not sure there is anyone in the 2nd round that would come in and help right away.
Second, I would not at all be surprised if we make some significant moves involving picks and moving up and potentially Lewis, so that would change things.
That being said, if Stuckey or Affalo are available still, I'd go that route. If not, I have 2 guys in mind that I really like on paper...
First, probably the most talented player in the 2nd round, and the most troubled:
He can come in and enter the "big" rotation right away, and if he can mature off the court can be a major contributer in time.
2nd, I really like this PG out of Finland. When I read his profile, I see a player perfectly designed for today's uptempo spread offenses, ala PHX. Also, I'm old school, I like my PG to pass first and get the other players involved, and I see him as being a perfect compliment to Durant and Swift as we start to move in new directions.
He may not be ready for a couple more years, so RayRay may be gone before he comes to town, but he really could be an impact player at the always tough to fill PG spot--
But drafting him gives us a chance to figure out what to do with our PG situation and perhaps move one with him playing in Europe, ready to come over and enter the rotation immediately either next year or the year after.
Stuckey would be nice find, especially consdiering his local connections. I saw Affalo play a few times in the Pac-10 and in the tournament, and I wasn't thrilled with his game.
Your idea of drafting a European player to develop for a couple of years is a good one. I'd be surprised if the Sonics opted to take two guys in the 2nd round to play in the league this year - there just aren't enough spots for them. So, it would seem that a draft-and-wait situation or a trade would be more likely.
I was impressed with Wilkins in the limited minutes I saw him play. You know, in the two games in which the Sonics appeared on national television. Gelabale is an interesting prospect also.
Man, Stuckey would be an awesome pickup. From what I've seen, he's going to be a 20ish pick, so the Sonics would have to deal those 2 2nd rounders to pick him up.
I coached against Affalo in HS down in Cali (and Bryce Taylor, another great SG prospect) and there may be some bias there because of it.
However, I do see much of his problem was that he shouldered so much of the UCLA "creative" offense when really that isn't his forte.
He is a tremendous complimentary player, a strong defender with a decent if not amazing offensive game-- but he also has great drive, and would be a solid pickup from an attitude position.
Let him back RayRay up and eventually replace him, with a tremdendous offensive 3 in Durant... with a great 3, you can afford to have a 12-15 ppg or so SG that will work his arse off on the "D" end.
I see him as kind of like Aaron McKey, a talented complimentary role player. And also a balance-guy when you take a risk with a player like Williams with that other pick.
I don't think he'll be around, however. And if I was going to trade up, I'd want to trade up far enough to get Acie Law, to be honest. I think he is in that same mold, a bigger, less flashy player who has guts and hustle and still enough talent to play in the league. Think Nate McMillen with a jumper...
Boy, if Affalo turns into anything close to Aaron McKie, I'm sold. You might be right about Affalo's role at UCLA. He had one fantastic game in the tournament this year, but the rest were just so-so or worse; it make sense that he might have been trying to do too much.
Law would be a fine pickup for the Sonics, but they'd have to really deal some good pieces to get him, since it looks like he might even go as high as the top 10 or 12 picks.
I know, I know... Law is wishful thinking.
I'm not sure if Affalo can be as good as Aaron McKey, but I don't think it is out of the realm of his potential.
And if we could wait a year and get Bryce Taylor he could be a great SG pro as well, he is a flashier more athletic player, but I don't think he has that toughness I KNOW Affalo has.
God I love this time a year... conjecture on our team can actually be laced with optimism and hope for the future...
Good point. The forward looking optimism is invigorating... like seeing the Seattle women take off those bulky sweaters after winter.
What do you guys think about Taurean Green from Florida? We know the guy can pass, he proved it in the tournament, and worst case, he would be a cheaper backup than either Frodo or Watson. (Then we can package one of em, preferably Watson, with a pick for a bruiser)
It's tough to say with Green. On the one hand, he's been an integral part of a back-to-back champion. On the other, he's 6'0", and the last thing the Sonics need is a another smallish point guard. He's a good shooter, but his assist numbers at Florida were less than stellar.
I worry about guys like Green; I ask myself: Would we even be talking about him if he went to Florida State rather than Florida? Personally, I'd rather see the Sonics get someone like Stuckey or Acie Law than Green. Draftexpress.com has a great write-up on the point guards at their site.
Draft Aaron Brooks in the second round, he possesses the speed needed to break down defenses ala Tony Parker, Steve Nash, and has the offense to score when needed.
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