Before last season, I wrote that I expected the Sonics to do better than the odds-makers predicted. I felt that Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis would be enough to propel the Sonics to a high 30s mark (Hey, at least I wasn't as optimistic as some guys at sonicscentral.com I'm not going to name names, but I seem to recall someone saying the Sonics had the capability of winning 45-50 games).
Well, I can't brag too much, because the Vegas folks were pretty close to the final result. Most books had the Sonics at about 32 wins, and they finished with 31. Injuries, chemistry, whatever ... the Sonics pulled in right on target, and none of us were too thrilled by that.
What about this year, though? The roster is revamped, the coaching staff is gone, and the front office is re-made in the "Seattle Spurs" model so coveted by our beloved owner. How will that play out?
I haven't found any specific numbers yet, but one book apparently thinks the Sonics have improved. At +6000, the Sonics pull in ahead of the bottom-dwellers, the +10000 club that includes Memphis, Boston, Atlanta, etc. This one feels about the same. Vegas Insider.com is less optimistic, putting the Sonics ahead of only Philly and the Grizzlies in the entire league. Of course, that was before the Sonics acquired Kurt Thomas, and he's worth a couple dozens wins by himself, right? Um, yeah, nevermind.
Vegasinsider.com aside, most of the other betting sites peg the Sonics as what you could deduce as a 35-40 win team. Not the dreck of the league, but not a playoff team, either. Kind of like the Mariners would be if JJ Putz wasn't doing his best Goose Gossage impersonation this season.
Personally, I'm a little less optimistic. I reserve the right to amend my prediction as the summer progresses, but I'm puttting the Sonics' total wins at 34. Two things could sway that, though:
1. If Sam Presti makes some more moves and adds pieces that will help the team this year
2. If Minnesota trades Kevin Garnett. The Wolves will be pretty bad, regardless, but trading Garnett makes them a 15-20 win team, which means 2-4 extra wins for the Sonics.
So, I've put my big mouth out there. How about the rest of you? Does 34 sound about right, or are you all aboard the Good Ship Durant, ready to set sail for the Land of Playoffs and 45 wins?