The Sonics are two games into their summer league schedule, and it’s obviously far too early to start analyzing trends or make any useful judgments. No one seriously thinks that Kevin Durant is going to shoot 20% from the field this season, and no matter how bad the point guard situation looks right now, it’ll get better when either Ridnour or Watson get their shot at running the floor.
So I thought it might be better just to take a look at three players in particular from Monday’s game. With all the attention paid to Durant, here’s a look at Mickael Gelabale, Johan Petro, and Jeff Green.
Johan catches more than his fair share of flak for his at-times abysmal performance as a big man. Lumped in with Robert Swift and Mo Sene as the Teen-aged Triumverate of Trepidation, Petro has been less than great for the Sonics in his brief career. But as a late first-round pick, that’s to be expected.
After a lousy performance against Dallas on Friday, I thought that Petro was much better against New York. He still gets outhustled by the other players, and his hesitancy on offense can make him wait too long to shoot, but overall I would say he performed decently. Does he take too many 15-footers for a big man? Yes. His ugly bank shot from about 10’ in the second quarter was a brick worthy of Olden Polynice, but his first jumper from the free throw line showed a nice touch. He obviously still needs to work on his aggressiveness in the paint, and to be more assertive at all points of the floor, but as a backup center playing 10 to 15 minutes a night, he’s not a disaster.
It’s a joy to watch this guy. His hops are fantastic, he can run like a point guard, he hustles at all times, and he’s exactly what every winning team needs coming off the bench. He picked up 3 steals in only 24 minutes, and he seemed to be involved in almost all of the Sonics’ transition opportunities (not that there were many, but still). At one point, he forced a 1-on-3 fast break when he really should have pulled the ball back, yet because of his strength he was able to draw two foul shots when it looked as though there was nothing there.
Only one final question: Is his hair longer than Renaldo Balkman’s?
From draft day huh? to present day yes! That’s Jeff Green. Easily the MVP of the Sonics on Monday, Green had two nice dunks, including the highlight-reel one over Nate Robinson in the first quarter. He showed nice range on his jump shot and was rewarded with a lot more opportunities on offense than on Friday. His up-fake off an offensive rebound in the second quarter drew a foul and a compliment from Walt Frazier, and deserved it. Green may be only a rookie, but he looks ready to play steady minutes in the NBA. As he gets stronger, he’ll be a nice piece for the Sonics to have on their front line. All you Hoya fans who said I was dead wrong on this guy on draft night – my apologies. You were right and I’ll be eating a crow sandwich all year long.
Sadly, those two bright spots were overshadowed by some lousy offense from the Sonics. It has become obvious that quicker point guards are killing the Sonics, as first Dallas and now New York have burned Seattle repeatedly by getting into the paint. On offense, the Sonics’ big men aren’t getting the ball where they should to be effective, and that falls on the shoulders of the point guards.
Still, that’s not a big problem in the long run. It doesn’t matter how many games the Sonics win in the summer league, it just matters that Durant, Green, and the rest get a better taste for the NBA.