Thursday, May 31
Consider that Sam Vincent, Billy Donovan, Marc Iavaroni, and now Jim O'Brien have been hired in the past week, and that's four fewer horses on the coaching carousel now.
Hey, it could be that Lenny Wilkens wasn't interested in any of those fellows, anyways, and that odds-on favorite Sam Presti would like to bring his San Antonio associate PJ Carlesimo to take the job. If that's the case, then no problem.
But if it's not, and if Presti isn't the candidate and if PJ isn't, either, then, well, the Sonics are going to find themselves sorting through the clearance rack after the draft is over.
And considering that this coach will play a big factor in how Kevin Durant perceives the Sonics, that's not an appetizing proposition, now is it?
Wednesday, May 30
So, Sonic fans, are you interested in Kobe? Would you be willing to deal Ray Allen and a couple of picks to get him? In all likelihood, it would require Allen, one of this year's #2s, next year's #1, and another player, such as Damien Wilkins or Earl Watson to make it happen. Even then, I don't know that the Lakers would go for it, keeping in mind that a lot of GMs got itchy trigger fingers today.
It would make for an interesting lineup, for sure:
Personally, while the initial excitement over adding a guy who can score like Allen and play defense, too, is tempting, I don't know that it makes the Sonics tremendously better. You could argue that Kobe is Ray's better or equal in all phases of their games, and he's on the right side of 30 as well. But Kobe's tendency to dominate the ball, which wouldn't be a great atmosphere in which for either Oden or (especially) Durant to grow.
It's worth discussing, though.
This further cements the possibility of the Sam Presti/PJ Carlesimo combination becoming the duo Lenny Wilkens selects.
Unless, of course, he decides the Lenny Wilkens/Lenny Wilkens duo is even better.
[Side note: Jack McCallum at si.com reports that the Grizzlies had considered the Suns' Dave Griffin for their GM job, but Phoenix wants Griffin to remain until after the draft. If that's true, then there's little or no chance of him working in Seattle, either, since Wilkens has made it clear publicly that he wants to have the GM (not necessarily the coach) in place pre-draft.]
Yes, the man with too many vowels offended Clay Bennett by stating to an Oklahoma City station "nobody cares about whether the Sonics stay in Seattle." (The quote is courtesy of the The Oklahoman, a paper owned by Mr. Bennett's wife, with a tip from a commenter). Mr. Swanson's quote was held up by Mr. Bennett as an illustration of how the Seattle area is apathetic about retaining the Sonics.
You know how when you pull up to a four-way stop and there's no one else around, and you just kind of slow down but never come to a complete stop? In the Northwest it's called a "California" stop, but I've also heard it called an "Oklahoma" stop.
I guess when Mr. Bennett said he intended to use 12 months to explore the situation here and look for alternatives, he meant an "Oklahoma" 12 months, which is really 7 or 8 months.
I suppose I should reserve judgement and toss aside this rhetoric as just, well, rhetoric. And that Mr. Bennett is just saying all of this to ratchet up negotiations with the state so that an arena deal gets done in time for October. And, if all of that comes to pass, most of this talk will be water under the bridge when we're sitting in our $125 seats in the third level with binoculars watching Kevin Durant dunk on Greg Oden as the Sonics cruise past the Blazers for their sixth straight NW Division Title.
And I suppose that continuing to berate Clay Bennett serves no purpose than to irritate his seemingly thin skin. After all, it is difficult at this point to determine where the truth lies - is he truly this frustrated, or is it just posturing?
But I can't help but being a little bothered by Mr. Bennett's continual complaining about the situation here. Yes, the city and state are obstinate in getting a deal done, but he had to have known how difficult the situation was when he entered into it, did he not? Did he really think that Howard Schultz was an oveslick city incompetent and that all this situation needed was a shrewd cowboy from Oklahoma to git 'er done? That the region would just rubber-stamp whatever proposal he threw at them in slobbering love-fest to honor a team that had just held them up for a similar ransom 10 short years ago?
Sorry, but I just do not buy it. I'll wait to reserve judgement until the situation is resolved one way or another, but at the moment, it sure appears that Mr. Bennett's trip to Seattle was truly an "Oklahoma" stop.
Tuesday, May 29
-A league insider tells the Times' Percy Allen that the reason Lenny Wilkens is taking so long to hire a coach is because he wants to hire Lenny Wilkens to be the coach. I can't imagine this is true - Lenny wouldn't be that deceitful, would he - but it still makes me shudder.
- Kerry Eggers in the Portland Tribune says the Blazers' Kevin Pritchard intimates he likes high-risk, high-reward players more than low-risk, low-reward players. If that means he's taking Durant, I've got no problem with that. Pritchard also indicated that Durant is the more NBA-ready, at least offensively. "Kevin is going to come in and score points right away, probably 20 a game."
-Frank Hughes is optimistic that the Sonics will re-sign Rashard, simply because they can offer him a six-year deal and other teams cannot.
-Trenton Hassell tells Mark Madsen the same thing I've been thinking: He'd rather have the 2nd pick than the first. “Because you can’t go wrong with the 2nd pick….I’d hate to be the GM that had to choose between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.”
Monday, May 28
So, if you're running the Sonics (and, at the moment, you may as well be), how much ransom do you give Portland in exchange for the #1 pick? I'm surprised I haven't heard anyone discuss this yet, but it's worthy topic of consideration.
Salaries always make these sorts of deals difficult, but because the #1 and #2 picks are both worth so much, we're not at a wide impasse. I'll make the first bid:
Sonics offer the #2 overall pick and the first pick of the 2nd round in exchange for the #1 overall pick.
Is that a ridiculously poor offer? Would both 2nd round picks make it more equitable? Should we be including a #1 in the future into the deal? I'd be curious to hear what Blazer fans think of the idea (well, except for those running the draftkevindurant site; I love you guys!).
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.
Sunday, May 27
Anyway, imaginary high-fives all around!
UPDATE: Pete also got name-dropped on AOL Sports today!
Saturday, May 26
"We've been in contact [with Lenny Wilkens]. We'll probably stay in contact on and off until July 1."The bidding is expected to reach $15 million per season.
Friday, May 25
Rashard Lewis receives first-page treatment from Ian Thomsen at si.com, detailing his possible future homes. According to Thomsen, Orlando and the Bulls are the first options, with New York, Cleveland, Washington, Dallas, Philadelphia, Boston, Indiana, and Portland waiting in the wings.
It's funny, isn't it? The Sonics go all season without making as much as a blip on the NBA radar (what's below a blip, anyways? a bloop? a tick?), and now between Durant's arrival and Lewis' possible departure, we're front page every day.
Count me as a "thanks, but no" on the Darko rumors. Free Darko? Great. Darko Milicic? Not so much. Yeah, he's 7', and yeah, he can block shots, but from what I've seen of Milicic in his games against the Sonics, I'd rather not tie up a big chunk of salary cap space on his "potential." Put it this way: Nick Collison's rebounding numbers (percentage-wise) were better than Darko's this year, and I don't hear anyone clamoring to give Collison a six-year deal worth upwards of $10 mil a season.
Now, Jermaine O'Neal? That's a whole different story ...
Thursday, May 24
That's right. The man responsible for this past season's craptacular performance has contacted the Orlando Magic about their opening, less than 24 hours after Brian Hill got the axe.
Apparently, Hill is "close" to Rashard Lewis, and is intimating to the Magic that he can help deliver the potential free agent to their doorstep. If by "close," Hill means "I coached him last year," then I'd agree 100%. But if I'm the Magic, I'm thinking to myself: At the Off-Season Sushi Buffet, is the Bob Hill-Rashard Lewis Platter what I want to be ordering?
Anyhoo, the folks at espn are interested in all this draft stuff, too. So much so that they brought Durant in for a Q&A with fans. Here's an abbreviated transcript:
Andrew (Charlotte, NC): To Kevin Durant: What current NBA player would you compare your game to?
Kevin Durant: That's a tough one. I'd say probably Dirk Nowitzki, with the way he can shoot and post up.
Lehi utah : hey kevin , What do you think Of playing with Ray allen and rahard lewis if you get drafted by the sonic.
Kevin Durant: If I go to the Sonics, that would be tremendous, playing alongside two all-stars. I know they would teach me a lot of things.
Jon ((Dallas)): Out of all the players you went against last year in the NCAA, who was the best player, other than you?
Kevin Durant: Oooh. Julian Wright. He would just hit shots over the top of me. I said, I couldn't do anything to stop that.
John Balcita (Carson, CA): Before a game, do you listen to any music to pump you up? What's your pre-game ritual?
Kevin Durant: Before the game, I just sit and be focused. I listen to Usher before the game. It calms me down a little bit.
Okay, I'll admit, that was useless. I now know that Durant likes to listen to Usher before games. Whoop-de-doo.
Anyways, the point is that I can't remember the last time a Sonic-related person had such a high profile at espn.com. We're livin' in different times, folks.
Rashard Lewis is not a lot of things. He's not a defensive stopper, he's not a low-post menance, he's not a tenacious rebounder, he's not an intimidating bruiser, and he's not famous for making last-second clutch plays.
He is, however, a young former all-star (who would likely have made the team this year were it not for injuries), a good 3-point shooter, a tremendous scorer, and someone who can score 20 points a night without breaking a sweat. Say what you will about Rashard, the man puts the ball in the hole, and that counts for something in this league.
But Kevin Durant has gone and turned that all upside down. And now, the Sonics - and Rashard - are facing a dilemna. Do the Sonics re-ink Lewis, who plays the very same position as Durant? Does Rashard walk away from the only team he's ever known, simply because he'll be #3 on the depth chart within 2 years?
Don't forget, Ray Allen isn't getting any younger. Allen, while a wonderful player, is coming off surgery as well, and I don't think he'll be able to maintain this 40-minute-a-night pace that Bob Hill put him through the past year or so.
So, what do you want, Sonic fans? Do we deal Rashard in a sign-and-trade? Do we keep him and pay him the big bucks he wants? Let's hear your thoughts.
Wednesday, May 23
I’m not a big believer in fate, at least not in a karmaic, “do one good turn” sort of way. Last night, though, got me to wondering.
I purposely avoided the 5:30 announcement of the lottery picks, afraid that the Sonics would draw the fifth, or even worse, slot. We had a couple of friends and their daughter over for dinner, and this being Canada, the topic of the NBA certainly didn’t come up.
By the time they left, it was time to put our daughter to bed. When she was born, a friend of mine gave me a Children’s Bible, and we read her a chapter out of it every night. Last night, fatefully, was the story of Lazarus. I’ll spare you the spiritual side of the story, because this is a basketball blog, not a Basketball for Jesus blog. But while I was reading the story – of a man raised from the dead to live again – I allowed myself to ponder the possibility of the Sonics grabbing a top two pick. Could it happen? Would we, the deadest basketball franchise in the NBA, be brought back from the brink?
Well, as they like to say in the Bible, it came to pass. The Seattle Supersonics, given up for dead by two ownership groups, a league, a city, a fanbase, have risen. Seattle, a city whose best-known music – grunge – is as inspirational as a funeral dirge, has joy. In one moment, the Sonics have passed the Mariners on the city’s radar and are within sight of the Seahawks.
Will Kevin Durant or Greg Oden bring a new stadium to Seattle? Who knows. Will either of those two men bring excitement to Seattle basketball? Without doubt.
And while many may despair in light of Portland’s winning ping pong ball, I say this: Isn’t it better to have both teams on the upswing? Yeah, I’ll admit to hating the Blazers, but it’s a helluva lot more fun to hate an equal than it is to hate an inferior opponent. The best part of the Sonic-Blazer rivalry has come when both teams were playoff contenders, and yesterday’s activity has put these two on that path again.
(Aside #1: As if yesterday’s news couldn’t get any better, don’t forget the Sonics own the Grizzlies’ 2nd-round pick, as well as their own. Which means the Sonics get the #2 pick, as well as the first (Brandon Rush?) and fifth picks of the 2nd round. Nice.)
(Aside #2: Kudos to the commenter who pointed out Bob Hill’s responsibility for both Tim Duncan and, now, Kevin Durant/Greg Oden. Unbelievable; the guy is like something out of a Woody Allen movie. Bob, thanks for the memories, and extra thanks for getting us Kevin Durant.)
As for the rest of the whining teams and fans complaining about their luck (or lack thereof): Tough. Boston fans, you seriously expect anyone to feel pity for you? Your NBA team has more banners than anyone, your NFL team routinely wins the Super Bowl, and your baseball team spends close to $200 million a year in payroll. Sorry you didn’t Greg Oden, but not that sorry. Memphis? Memphis? I’m supposed to feel sorry for a city with 10 minutes of NBA pain? People, Seattle has won one title in 40 years of professional sports. If you expect me to feel any sympathy for you, get in line. If you don’t like the way the lottery is set up, then you should thought about that before you tanked your seasons and extended your head coach (Boston) or let the best GM in NBA history walk away (Memphis).
For now, though, we’re feeling no pain. The sun is shining in the northwest, Seattle and Portland are back from the dead, and all is right with the world.
Since I've had non-stop visions of that kid from Texas dancing in my head since the ping pong balls dropped, I wanted to scribble a little sketch to help me "pre-viz" what the likely #2 pick in the 2007 NBA draft will look like in his new uniform.
But if the Sonics end up with that other kid, I'll draw a picture of him, too.
Tuesday, May 22
The bouncy balls have ceased bouncing, and the Seattle SuperSonics have landed the number two pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. The last time the Sonics had the #2 pick, things worked out pretty well.
The only way this could be sweeter is if Portland could find another Sam Bowie in the draft.
Kevin Durant video
The folks at Sonicscentral, conversely, are all for it. And you know what, I can see their point. They admit the Sonics are not a financial priority for the region, and their argument that the team provides a huge emotional boost to this area has merit. Again, I don't agree with it, but I can see where they are coming from.
And, more importantly, they've put their efforts behind that. The saveoursonics site is just the tip of the iceberg. From rallies to trips to Olympia to t-shirts ... these guys have gone all out in a concerted effort to help Clay Bennett's investment.
So when I read this quote from Bennett in the Kansas City Star about the reaction to the stadium failure, well, it flat-out pissed me off.
“No hue and cry, no letters to the editor, nothing by the media or talk on the call-in shows, or no new ideas on how to get it done,” Bennett said. “No private ideas on the table.”
That's just obscene. Here are these fellows at sonicscentral, completely unpaid, devoting all of their free time to help Bennett succeed, and he completely urinates all over their efforts.
I know Bennett is positioning himself to move to another city, or at least intimidate the city/state into getting what he wants, but this is just flat-out lousy. Further, he's lying, if the rumors about the Muckleshoot tribe or David Sabey are to be believed. For crying out loud, how many deals does he expect? Didn't he get the opportunity to buy the team solely because a group of men from Seattle failed to build a stadium in the first place? Does he truly expect us to believe him when he acts shocked that the stadium isn't built within 48 hours of his arrival?
Shame on you, Clay Bennett. I hope David Stern gives you the same treatment he gave the last carpet-bagging owner in the NBA, Bill Laurie, and sends you packing back home to Oklahoma.
If you think about it, it's sort of the same feeling you get during a Game 7 in the 3rd quarter. You know, when you're staring at the tv, thinking to yourself, "I've been watching these guys all season, through the dregs of February and everything, and now there's only 18 minutes left in the season. I should really pay better attention."
That's kind of how I feel now. We've been watching the Sonics for 40 years (not all of us, mind you), and now the future of the franchise could lie in a couple of ping pong balls in New Jersey. With the #1 or #2 pick, Bennett most likely keeps the team here, a stadium magically appears, and all is right with the world as the Sonics cruise back into the playoffs.
With a #3 or lower pick, Bennett possibly sells the team, moves the team, or goes to court with the city. None of those are particularly appealing.
Thankfully, according to Bill Simmons, we are the most deserving of any team in the draft to get the #1 pick. I'm not sure how to take that; does that mean we're the homeliest girl at the dance, or just the most deserving of getting some good luck?
Whatever the case may be, please put in some good thoughts towards New Jersey this day. The Sonics need your help, and if you're at all interested in watching basketball in Seattle down the road, it may all just start today.
Monday, May 21
Seattle SuperSonics chairman Clay Bennett has been offered the opportunity to sell the team to local real estate developer David Sabey, according to three sources, but for now has rejected the proposal.This story sounds too good to be true, so I'm going to keep the fine champagne on ice for now, but if this goes down, I am going to give David Sabey the biggest man-hug of all time.
Also, Seattle Storm chief operating officer Karen Bryant three months ago broached the topic of purchasing the WNBA team from Bennett, according to sources, but was rebuffed because Bennett thinks he has more leverage with both entities together.
Sabey was part of Howard Schultz’s ownership group, which sold the Sonics and Storm to Bennett last July for $350 million.
Sabey recently purchased 55 acres of land at the south end of Boeing Field for $91 million that, sources say, he wants to use as a site for a new arena.
Read the rest here.
(Story found on the great Seattlest site)
Friday, May 18
4 days and counting until the future of the Sonics is revealed ...
Tuesday is the big day, of course, and it's entirely possible the Sonics walk out of the NBA's Seacaucus, New Jersey studios holding onto either Kevin Durant or Greg Oden, and, thus, an improved future.
But let's be reasonable. It's much more likely Seattle will be picking 5th or 6th than 1st or 2nd. That being the case, who should the Sonics be taking, or should they be dealing the pick away entirely? (Remember, Rick Sund isn't here anymore, so allay those worries about Seattle taking a 15-year-old handball player from Madagascar).
The more I look at it, the more I think that Corey Brewer is the answer for the Sonics. He's a defensive-minded small forward with a decent offensive game (he'll have to improve in this area to be a star at the NBA level), and, perhaps just as important, he's been around winning teams for the past two years, something about which not a soul on this Sonic team can boast.
But what about Rashard Lewis, you ask? Sadly, I'm leaning more and more to the idea that even if Lewis wants to stay (which none of us know for sure), we might be better off seeing him head elsewhere. The Lewis and Allen combo is not going to produce a championship in Seattle, and a sign-and-trade deal for Lewis might be the best way to salvage the relationship.
Feel free to discuss my incompetence at your leisure.
Thursday, May 17
Ever read Uni Watch at espn.com? A great column, one of the better reads on the internet.
Paul Lukas, the author of Uni Watch, posted a nifty article a couple of weeks ago with a brief write-up on the best reasons for wearing each jersey number from 0 (Al Oliver, Rey Ordonez) to 99 (Wayne Gretzky, Turk Wendell).
Naturally, it got me to thinking about Sonic jersey numbers. With my trusty Sonic media guide in hand, I set out to find the best player at each jersey number in team history. Here we go:
0: Olden Polynice. Accept no imitations.
00: Benoit Benjamin. Only for his marvelous performance against the Blazers in the 90-91 playoffs.
1: Gus Williams. Sorry, Sherrell Ford, but when a guy gets his numbered retired, I think he gets the honor.
2: Gary Payton. Everybody remembers GP as #20, but he started out as #2.
3: Some interesting fellas here; Dana Barros, Greg Kelser, Burnin Vernon Maxwell, Eric Snow, but the best 3 in Seattle history is the best 3-point shooter in Seattle history: Dale Ellis.
4: Currently Nick Collison rocks the 4 (although he plays the 5, curiously), but Sedale Threatt gets the nod; tip of the cap to Al Wood, if only because he got traded for Dale Ellis in a steal of a deal.
5: Avery Johnson, many moons ago, as part of the greatest collaboration of PG talent in NBA history (AJ, Nate, Threatt, John Lucas, all on the same squad).
6: Only one candidate, Moochie Norris.
7: Rashard, and if he sticks around, it’ll eventually be retired.
8: Well, you’ve got the white folks (Scott Meents and Luke Ridnour), and you’ve got the not-so-good Eddie Johnson and Kevin Ollie. But how can you not pick Lonnie Shelton?
9: I hate to give him 2 awards, since he doesn’t deserve it, but clearly Dale Ellis is more deserving than either Randy Livinston or the Potato, Vitaly Potapenko, right?
10: When your nickname is Mac-10, you get the award. Sorry, Bob Love.
11: Detlef Schrempf, not surprisingly, took a very efficient number for his jersey.
12: Ick; Drew Barry, Damien Wilkins, Quintin Dailey, Art Harris, Nick Weatherspoon, Bob Weiss... do I have to pick someone? I’ll go with Dailey, only because he once ordered – and ate – a hot dog on the Sonics’ bench.
13: Slick Watts, of course. A Sonic, and Seattle icon, through and through. Big Snacks and Kendall Gill get honorable mention.
14: Greatest sign in Sonic history: “Sam, Sam, Sam for Mayor!” Sam Perkins, Big Smooth, slowest deep threat in team history.
15: Yikes, 11 guys to sort through. Well, toss out Gerald Henderson, Gelabale, Lucas, Flip Murray, Bud Stallworth, Aaron Williams, ... who do we have left? Ahh, Vinnie Johnson (love The Microwave) and Eddie Johnson (the good one). I’ll go with EJ, simply because I loved the way he was able to score in any situation.
16: Tom Burleson. No other competitors.
17: The Fiddler! Vincent Askew makes an appearance.
18: Mo Sene, because he’s the only guy to ever wear this number in team history.
19: Lenny Wilkens. Hey, he’s Team President, right? Right?
20: The Glove gets some decent competition (James Bailey, Maurice Lucas) and some not-so-decent competition (Jon Sundvold, Eugene Short), but, seriously, this ain’t even an argument.
21: A lucky 13 folks have worn this number, from Gerald Paddio to Danny Fortson to Butch Beard to Ricky Pierce. And don’t forget Dennis Awtrey or Ruben Patterson, an Odd Couple if there ever was one. I’ll take Pierce, coming off a screen, and then ambling on down the court.
22: Oh, Jim McIlvaine, you overpaid stiff, you. Sure, logic says Danny Young or Pierce or even Bill Hanzlik were better, but who remembers them, when you helped to bring down an entire franchise?
23: In his second incarnation with the Supes, OP went for 23, but I’m going with Danny Vranes, the Sonics’ most-recent #5 pick in the draft, in the hopes it will remind the front office not to opt for undersized small forwards from the WAC.
24: Wow. Over here you’ve got Dennis Johnson, DJ, RIP, Finals MVP and all that. Then in that corner, you’ve got Tommy Chambers, All-Star MVP, best dunking white man you ever did see. And let’s not forget Spencer Haywood, who actually had the jersey retired in his name this year. Can I wimp out with a 3-way tie? I guess not; got to give it to Haywood, because he was better than either of the other two (though not by much).
25: What, a current player? What’s this? Earl Watson, come on down. I’ll give special mention to David Wingate and, sadly, Rich King.
27: John Johnson, the original JJ. Averaged a Pippen-esque 5.3 boards and 5.2 assists in the championship season, then upped those numbers again in the playoffs. When you look up unsung in the dictionary, John Howard Getty Johnson stares you right back in the face.
29: Mike Wilks, for the greatest end-of-the-season run in 3rd-string point guard history. Let’s hope David Locke’s favorite underdog gets a nice, fat guaranteed contract from somebody next year.
Alright, that’s enough for one day. I’ll finish up with numbers 30 and up later this week. If you’ve got any arguments, or if I’ve omitted anyone, feel free to post them in the comments section and we’ll try to make the corrections.
Wednesday, May 16
Stu Jackson was, in all reasonable analysis, the worst general manager in the history of the NBA, if not the worst GM in the history of professional sports. In fact, if you studied the case long enough, you could make the argument that Jackson might have failed more successfully at his job than anyone in the history of anything.
Foisted upon the good people of Vancouver by David Stern in a case of affirmative action gone bad, Jackson wasted first-round picks on Bryant Reeves, Antonio Daniels (#4 overall!), Steve Francis (who had already indicated he wanted to play in Vancouver about as much as David Stern wanted to be commissioner of the Palestine Liberation League), and Stromile Swift (#2!). Oh, and he also refused to select Steve Nash in the draft, even though Nash would have been an immediate hit in Vancouver due to his Canadian heritage.
Not satisfied with that unprecedented level of crapitude, or perhaps sensing that he was hopelessly inept at finding quality college players despite possessing high level picks, Jackson punted, and dealt a #1 pick to the Detroit Pistons ... for Otis Thorpe. And this wasn't prime-time O.T., either, this was 35-year-old Otis Thorpe, the Otis Thorpe that Jackson peddled to the Sacramento Kings for Michael Smith and Bobby Hurley. Um, yeah.
So you have to forgive me if I'm not the slightest bit surprised by Jackson's lousy decision-making in suspending Stoudamire and Diaw for Game 5. You see, after Jackson was ousted from Vancouver, Stern allowed him to crawl back to NYC and become the league's suspension czar. It was either that, or Stern would have to admit that he (Stern) had made a horrible mistake in letting Jackson be a GM, and you know David isn't keen on admitting mistakes.
The outrage shouldn't be that Jackson made a bad decision. The outrage should be that that an imbecile like Jackson is even allowed to have a job in the NBA at all.
Tuesday, May 15
In other coaching news, Sam Mitchell's boss, Bryan Colangelo, is refusing permission to other teams to speak with Mitchell about coaching their teams. If you're a Sonic fan, this is a good thing. Bryan, you can have Sam, we don't want him.
Rambins and Cleamons are certainly below the radar of potential candidates, but you've got to like anyone who's gone through the Phil Jackson school of coaching. Both of them have previous head coaching experience (Rambis in LA, Cleamons in Dallas).
Saturday, May 12
And, yes, the fact that the fourth year of the Rockford Files comes out on DVD next week will severely impact my ability to finish the task. Sorry, unless I’m gettin’ paid $200 a day plus expenses, I’m not going to tackle a statistical job like that.
Back to where I started now. Rather than comprehend the stats, I thought it might help to get us started by just looking at exactly what those statistics are. I’ll bet if you asked 100 people – NBA-fan people, that is – how many points Greg Oden averaged at Ohio State, maybe 10 would give you an answer that was close to his actual total (15.7), and even fewer would tell you he averaged just shy of 10 boards a night.
And that is precisely my point. We all know about these guys, but unlike NBA stats, NCAA stats are like the Book of Genesis – everyone has a vague idea, but most people just use it to confirm their own theories. Yes, we all know Oden’s a good shot-blocker, but how many did he average? It’s fine to say that NCAA stats don’t matter, and an argument can be made that there’s no point in paying attention to them. After all, if they did make a big difference, why weren’t Chris Corchiani or Bobby Hurley (all-time assists leaders) all-stars in the NBA? But shouldn’t we as fans have a decent idea of what these fellows did in their recent history?
I’m hoping this article will be helpful in getting Sonic fans to know a little bit more, statistically speaking, about the incoming draft class. I’ll try to focus on the top dozen or so players, since that’s the area from which Seattle will be picking. Possibly, I’ll look at how last year’s class did, and what we can learn from that as well.
For now, though, we’ll start by just looking at the raw numbers, and then start to delve into my amateur analysis in later articles.
Oh, what, you wanted another article about the arena? Like you haven’t heard enough about that topic already?
Below, I’ll give a brief look at the players, but if you want the complete look at all the players, you can click on the picture to the right.
Everyone wants to talk about Durant and Oden, for obvious reasons. Oden shot a much higher percentage (62 to 47), but was much worse at making free throws (63 to 82). Oden was also a better offensive rebounder (4.9 to 3.4) and shot blocker (4.5 to 2.1). Durant took a lot more shots (20.6 to 13.3) and generated more overall rebounds, steals, assists, while committing 1.5 less fouls. All are numbers you would expect, given Oden is a center and Durant is, well, I don’t know what he is. A small power forward? A powerful small forward? A powall forward?
On to the other guys (i.e., who the Sonics will be stuck with). Rather than go in-depth on each player, I’ll just throw out the leaders (all numbers are per 40 minutes):
|Points||Al Thornton, 25.3|
|FG %||Roy Hibbert, 67||Boards||Joakim Noah, 13||FT%||Thornton, 79||FTA||Noah, Thornton, 7.7||3PM||Thaddeus Young, 1.7||3P%||Acie Law, 46||Offensive Boards||Hibbert, 4.1||Assists||Mike Conley, 7.7(Law had 5.9)||Steals||Conley, 2.8||Blocks||Hibbert, 3.7||Ast:TO||Conley, 2.8||eFG%||Hibbert, 67|
Of note: Joakim Noah made one three-pointer all year (you could win plenty of bets with that one), Corey Brewer was a pest on defense (2.6 steals), Jeff Green really is the all-around player he's been getting credit for, and Brandan Wright, a 6'10" power forward, averaged fewer fouls than point guard Acie Law.
Thursday, May 10
The stories you read about Julio Franco focus on his amazing endurance in relation to other baseball-related themes (e.g., he started playing before Cal Ripken’s streak started, he’s older than Rickey Henderson, etc.).
But when it comes to comparisons, sometimes you only truly appreciate the awe-inspiring when it is taken out of its usual context and placed alongside foreign objects.
That being the case, let’s put Julio Franco in a broader context. Franco’s first season in the majors came in 1982, the same year as the Falkland Islands War, the first artificial heart, and the release of the Commodore 64.
But back to hoops. The 1982 all-rookie team in the NBA – remember, this is Franco’s first season – included Jeff Ruland, Isiah Thomas, Kelly Tripucka, Jay Vincent, and Buck Williams.
Think about that for a second ... Julio Franco and Buck Williams both broke in the same year. Buck Williams!
It gets better. That spring, while Franco was plying his trade with the Phillies alongside Pete Rose and Steve Carlton, the Sonics were featuring one Danny Vranes, like Franco a rookie, and, coincidentally the 5th overall pick in the draft that year. Of course, it should be mentioned that Danny Vranes is younger than Julio Franco.
In other sports news in Seattle from '82, Mike Tice made nine catches in his second year with the Seahawks and the team simultaneously saw the end of the Eras of Zorn and Patera. I should mention that Tice, now long-retired from playing and a former head coach, is younger than Julio Franco.
I could go on, and this is the second time I’ve written about Franco (the last being two years ago), but the man is inspiring. From his 5,000 calories a day to his sojourn in the Mexican Leagues ... Julio Franco, we salute you.
While people in the fortunate places can stew over matchups, momentum, and all the rest, we’re bored as heck. That’s right, bored as heck.
Seriously, are you wound-up about the #5 pick in the draft? I’m not. This team is so utterly mired in mediocrity that unless that #5 pick turns out to be a player/coach/GM who can dunk from the 3-point line it isn’t going to make a huge difference in wins and losses next season.
Likewise, I’m a little less than thrilled about the coaching possibilities being mentioned. Sam Mitchell? You mean the same guy that “guided” the Raptors to 60 wins in his first two seasons? Honestly, don’t you feel that this year’s Raptors were more than a little reminiscent of the 2003-04 Sonics, a team that went from crap to king to crap again faster than you can say Big Snacks?
Add in the Man Behind the Curtain, Lenny Wilkens, and you can see why Sonic fans are on the blase side this spring. Rather than arguing about how we’re going to be able to pawn Earl Watson and Johan Petro off on some unsuspecting sucker, we’re wondering about who the heck is going to be in charge of everything.
It’s an unsettling spring in Seattle. From Oklahoma Clay to Lenny’s version of “The Apprentice” to Rashard Lewis, everything’s up in the air.
There have been better springs in Seattle, for sure, but I don’t think there have been any worse.
Friday, May 4
I know, empathizing with Mark Cuban after a playoff loss is like feeling sorrow for Donald Trump on a bad hair day, but I’m not referring to the Dallas owner, I’m talking about the fans.
You see, Mavericks fan, we know how it feels. At this moment, the entire country is in love with the team that took from you what was rightfully yours. This upstart #8 seed with raucous fans, a ragtag group roster of underachievers, has stolen your entry in the second round; kept you from traveling to the NBA Finals to reclaim what the officials took from you last June.
Sonic fans feel your pain, Mavericks fan. We feel it every time the networks re-run that clip of Dikembe Mutombo clasping the ball to his chest while lying flat on the Colisseum floor. We know what it’s like when the country gets enamored with the underdog, and roots for the lowly seeded upstarts to knock off the expected champion.
You think we don’t still feel the disgust of watching John Elway, that horse-faced jerk, taunting us from the sidelines while the Nuggets began their comeback in Denver? Please, Mavericks fan, don’t insult us.
And Mavericks fan, don’t expect the pain to gradually subside – it will not. If your team fails on a scale such as this, the pain lingers. First, an open wound for a couple of years; then, a deep scar; and, finally, a mark that never leaves.
Like I said, a moment for the Mavericks fan.
Oh, and Maverick fan? Just be thankful your team isn’t owned by someone from Oklahoma.
Wednesday, May 2
Remind me why we started doing this again? Oh, that's right.
Here's Part Two of the FINAL ISSUE of
"DANNY FORTSON: CYBORG SMASHER."
Please, lord, let me be done with this before 07-08 training camp...
Rated PG-13 for language, man boobs