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?
I'm going to say this again, I think we are going to do pretty well this season and I believe that the betting sites were right on target with the 35-40 prediction, even if Presti stands pat. A lot of people look at this team, having lost our two primary players, as being much worse than we were last year. Nevertheless, I believe, in fact, that we have improved. In fact, I don't think there would be too many issues scoring either, maybe in crunch time in a close game unless Durant really is better than advertised or if Wally proves he is healthy, but otherwise, we could still be a pretty good offensive teams. The Summer League Numbers are shabby, but could you compare Brandon Heath, Jermaine Jackson, or Zabian Dowdell to one of the league's best passers in Luke Ridnour, whose past first-mentality is a perfect compliment to Jeff Green and Durant. Now don't go crazy here, I'm not saying Luke is one of the best PG's, I'm just talking about his playmaking and passing. Now back to my rant. Yes, we lost Ray Allen, but we also added West who can average about 12-14 ppg, Wally who can average 8-12ppg depending on his role and health, Green who can average 12-14 ppg, Thomas who can average 6-8 ppg, and Swift who can average 10 ppg, totaling up to 48-58 ppg which completely offsets the totals Allen/Lewis put up last year, not to mention the improvement on defense that the additions would be. In addition, Durant alone could put up the numbers that Lewis did last year. Maybe not as efficiently just yet, but he certainly is capable of it. In addition to that, it is not crazy to speculate that Wilcox, Collison, Ridnour, and Gelabale would improve upon a badly coached season and just due to seasoning alone. Now, don't take me wrong here, I am not arguing playoffs, though that is within the realm of possibility, but I believe they will actually have a better record than last year.
Solid post up above. Initially, I get the sense that the Sonics are already much improved on Defense. If you check out 82games.com you can see a season to season trend that Sonics kept score more and more, while playing worse and worse defense. So much so that after 05-06 season John Hollinger, of ESPN fame, had them rated as the worst defensive team of all time.
"In the 33 years since the NBA has been tracking turnovers (thus making it possible to track teams on a per-possession basis), none has ever been as bad, relative to the league, as this year's (05-06) Sonics. Nobody has even been close to this bad. Seattle's 112.4 defensive efficiency mark is more than nine points worse than the league average of 103.2."
He later states:
"The Sonics are so good offensively that if the defense is merely bad, as in 2004-05, they're a playoff team. And it's easy to say they can't get any worse than they were this year. But looking ahead, one wonders if the defense can pass muster next season even with Watson, because it appears Seattle will be depending on most of the same players. Since Seattle's key offensive players -- Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Chris Wilcox and Luke Ridnour -- are also among its worst defensive players, it's hard to see how they can improve the defense substantially without negating the offensive part of the equation."
Since half of those key offensive players from the worst defensive team of all-time are gone. It is safe to say that we should expect lower scoring games both from the offensive and defensive side.
To that end I see the Sonics at a 25 to 35 win team. Though I need to crunch some more numbers to figure out just were I think they'll land. Also, I'd like to note that things such as injuries (whether to the Sonics or their opponents) and scheduling match ups (thing like back to back games, crazy cross country trips, etc) always throw a kink into things. Thanks for posting what you've found from Vegas. I'm not surprised that some bookies might see the team as being improved due to exodus of Allen and Lewis from a defensive perspective. That said, I do not see the Sonics making any further moves to improve the team outside of filling that final 15th roster spot.
Nuss if you can revive this prediction post towards the end of the pre-season that would be great. As it stands now mark me down for 25 wins at worst to 35 wins at best.
This would be an interesting year to make some money on the Sonics, especially early in the year. 3 years ago when we first started this blog, I ran gameday previews that included me picking against the spread for that night's game. As we all remember, the Sonics started out shockingly well (I think they were 12-3 or something like that at one point).
Everyone kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, and if I had been actually wagering on those games I would have made a ton, because Vegas (reflecting their bettors' opinions) kept thinking the Sonics weren't for real.
The same thing might happen this year, since no one really knows how much of an impact Durant and, especially, Green will have. The first two months of the year the Sonics will be dogs in almost every game, and there could be some money to be made if Durant turns out to be as good as advertised.
Assuming there are a couple more minor roster moves coming, my guess is 41 Wins. There, I said it.
(I reserve the right to change my prediction prior to the Season Opener, in case of floods, fire or an outlandish trade that somehow nets us Shaq for three stiffs and a bucket of fish)
I think Presti has built a team that'll walk the line being bad/embarrassing, and I mean that in a good way. The team will show a little promise, and win just enough this year (I'm guessing 30-35 wins) to keep fans interested in the future, without being flat-out horrid. Which is great, because we stay out of the playoffs, get back in the lottery and still have KD to keep us entertained.
The Sonics have got to be one of the toughest teams to forecast this season. How long will it take Green and Durant to get used to the NBA, and how long until they hit the rookie wall? What does Swift have to offer? Does Sczerbiak have anything left? With Ray and Shard gone, will Gelabele, Wilkins, Ridnour, Watson, Wilcox or Collison surprise us and suddenly step their games up a notch, or will it turn out they needed Ray and Shard on the floor to get them easy shots? Will West be as good playing for the Sonics as he was for a bad Celtics squad? How long will it take a new coach with a new team to gel? A lot of unknown factors. Thank goodness we have Kurt Thomas now to help out rebounding and defending. Given our heavy reliance on two (albeit highly talented) rookies, and the strength of the Western Conference generally, I think a 30 win season would be a realistic goal. The real success of the upcoming season will be Durant and Green's development anyway
obviously hard to say at this point since we all assume this isn't the final roster, but i think 40 wins is pretty realistic. Durant is going to be a major star.
The Sonics could very easily win anywhere from 20 to 40 games and I would not be surprised at all. I just have absolutely no idea how this group will come together. I guess it's exciting in a way (just so long as the final result is closer to 40 than 20).
Put me down for 37 wins.
How about considering a trade for Kevin Garnett? Trade Wilcox, Wilkens, Watson, Wally and/or Petro plus a combination of a couple of our picks next year (the Sonics have two #1 picks and three #2 picks in next draft, I believe).
I agree with Ryan that the Sonics could win 40 with our present team. With the right coach (like Dwayne Casey) the team would make the #8 seed in the playoffs.
In an 8 man rotation: Collision, Kurt Thomas and West would come off the bench. West would be the 6th man.
Petro, Watson & Wilkens would never get off the bench, excepting blow-outs and injuries.
I would like to see Kenny Adekele added to the roster. He was the best big man the Sonics put out in summer league. If the Sonics stand pat and keep the team as is, this team will be a lot of fun to watch.
Durant is defenitely going to be a star and rookie of the year this year. This is because he is the only rookie that is going to be a #1 scoring option. You saw this in summer league play, he was among the top scorers but shot an awful percentage. As time goes on KD will be able to improve his shot selection, get to the line more, and gain the strength to exploit mismatches.
Green will also be a big contributor but probably from the bench for 20-30 games.
I think some trades are still likely and it seems that anyone who doesn't play defense well is at risk. Specifically- Wilcox, Ridnour, Petro, Wilkins.
I agree with the point about Garnett, if he is traded out of the division (or conference) that will net the sonics a few wins against the t-wolves who will be atrocious w/o KG.
I think the sonics could be as bad as 20 wins or as good as 40. X-factors are:
1. Remaining trades
3. Durant & Green's development
4. Swift's health and skill
I'll say 35. Better than last year, but not enough to make the playoffs - perfect!
I would rather hope that Durant's play with the blue squad for the US team is more indicative of his play. Playing with pro's, he scored 24 pts including 2 of 5 from 3pt line, 4 steals, no turnovers and (if i recall correctly) shot 7 of 10 from 2pt range.
Totally agree with Michael about KD being rookie of the year, since he is #1 scoring option. Look out for Stuckey on the Pistons if he gets minutes.
Getting Durant with the #2 pick is like when Portland drafted Sam Bowie 1st overall and Chicago got Michael Jordan and 6 championships.
That's a little harsh--Oden is 1000 times better than Bowie. It's more like Hakeem vs. Jordan, or even Webber vs. Penny (remember--those guys were ultra-hyped too!).
Too Green (pun intended)
It's going to be tough to hear this, but the Sonics are really going to suck next season. Too little experience, too many losses. You're losing Ray and Rashard, and Durant isn't going to impact in terms of Ws right away (though probably will in statistics).
But, even with only 28 wins, the future looks bright for the Sonics, as Green looks like a fabulous player and playmaker, so you have him along with Durant, and you will also likely get a top pick to add another big stud in next year's draft (there's a great Top 5-7 players, and you'll probably get 1-3).
OJ Mayo anyone? Derrick Rose? Batum? Budinger? Beasley? Arthur? Love?
Kevin Durant 20-30ppg.,6reb,3ast.
Jeff Green 13-19ppg.,5 reb,4ast.
Kurt Thomas 9-11reb. 1-2blk. 1stl.
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