Wednesday, January 23

Halfway Home

Continuing from Tuesday’s theme ...

If the Sonics’ roster maintains its current pace, this year’s club will have the second-worst performing top trio in team history. Durant, Szczerbiak and Wilcox combine to average 45.1 ppg, the worst since Nick Weatherspoon, Slick Watts, and Fred Brown combined to score 43.0 ppg in 1976-77. Sadly, the Sonics’ current top three falls far short in the afro and headband departments.

Jeff Green had more offensive rebounds in November (34) than Kevin Durant has all season (28).

PJ Carlesimo has now gone 55-145 in his past four years as a head coach.

In order to avoid registering the worst season in team history (and you have to go back to the inaugural Seattle campaign of 1967-68 to find the worst record), the Sonics would have to finish 14-27 in the second half of the season, a 34% winning percentage. The Sonics’ current winning percentage is 28%, a difference of 6 percentage points, or the difference between the 76ers and the Nets.

The Sonics’ final seven games this year will be against teams currently in the Western Conference playoffs. Four of them are on the road.

The Sonics will play in Boston on March 12 in the second of a back-to-back (they play at Indy the night before) and the final game of a 7-game/10-day road trip. Vegas oddsmakers are anticipating the first three-digit spread in NBA history.

The last time the Sonics went three years without qualifying for the playoffs, Gerald Ford was president.

Nick Collison is posting the best numbers of his career (per minute) in assists, rebounds, points, turnovers, personal fouls, and steals.

Luke Ridnour is the only player in the league shooting better than 90% from the free throw line and below 30% from the 3-point line (minimum 30 free throws). Frodo has not made a 3 since six days before Christmas, a span of eight games. Opposing point guards have now started a book club, which meets while Ridnour is lining up beyond the arc.

That’s enough sass for two days, yes? Let’s get to the meat of the sandwich, the player grades, a favorite tool of lazy writers everywhere:

A-: Nick Collison. He’s cut down the turnovers and personal fouls which plagued him for so long, and has emerged as a legit starter in the NBA. Collison has nine double-doubles so far, including six in the past few weeks alone.

B+: Kevin Durant. I gave him plenty of flak in these columns, and his shooting numbers are disappointing, but that’s only because we expect so much of him. He’s 19, scores like crazy, is relatively consistent, and the future definitely seems bright. It’s not his fault this roster is a disaster waiting to happen.

B: Wally Szczerbiak. Again, Wally World has done what has been asked. Is he someone I’d go out of my way to acquire as an NBA GM? Probably not, and this is – in a bizarre way – the best situation for him at this point in his career, statistics-wise. Considering he’s averaging 20 points per 36 minutes and has the best +/- mark on the club, I’d say he’s doing fine.

B-: Chris Wilcox. Only because he seems uninterested in improving. Weezy has the skills to be a borderline all-star, but he seems content to be the 13-point, 6.5-rebound guy he has been for the past few years. A guy with his athleticism should be able to get 15 points without any trouble, and 8-10 boards should never be an issue, but he has been lapped by Nick Collison this season.

B-: Kurt Thomas. On effort, Thomas gets an A, but his aging legs preclude him from much offensively, hence the rating here. Because of defense and rebounding, he’d definitely be an asset to a playoff team looking for bulk.

C: Jeff Green. He’s come on more and more, and a B-/B grade may be possible by the end of the season. His 69% mark at the line is troubling, as is his 42% mark from the field. Worse still, he has the worst +/- rating on the team, non-Robert Swift Division.

C: Damien Wilkins. Some might look at this is a negative assessment, but I don’t mean it that way. Wilkins is a slightly above-average NBA player, which is a huge compliment. His salary is a great bargain (mea culpa: I criticized the length of the deal when it was announced 3 years ago; sorry, Mr. Sund), and while he’s grown dissatisfied with his role (understandable), if PJ can get him consistent minutes off the bench, he’s a good asset.

C-: Earl Watson. Yes, his assist numbers are pretty, but his +/- is atrocious, he gets fewer steals than Edgar Martinez, and his offense is somewhat offensive.

C-: Delonte West. Going into the season, I thought Delonte would emerge as a great piece to this roster, but it hasn’t happened. Injuries have been a big factor, and it’s hard to say if the trajectory of his Sonic career would be different were he 100%.

D: Luke Ridnour. Honestly, I’d give him a D-, but he’s a former Duck, so I’ll cut him some slack. Ridnour seems to be on the verge of becoming an NBA vagabond – someone good enough to make a roster, and good enough to play occasionally, but not good enough to be a starter. How badly do the Sonics now wish the Hawks had pulled the trigger on that #1 pick for Frodo deal last June?

F: Johan Petro. He’s 7’ tall, shoots below 40% and doesn’t block shots.

Incomplete: Mickael Gelabale, Robert Swift, Mo Sene.


Anonymous said...

i would like to see more of west to see what he can do but it looks like he is at the end of the bench for now. how are they suppose to evaluate him when he doesnt play consistant min. i have a feeling he will not be in seattle next year & this just might be by his choice.

Anonymous said...

I don't see Watson nor Delonte as ever being any more than very bit pieces on contender level clubs. Luke I still like given the right club around him. No, he isn't shooting well right now, but unlike Earl he has the offensive ability to do so. I think he is the type of player that would have excelled in a solid role with a contender like the 90's Bulls or Rockets where there is a strong defensive mindset and talented players he can work with. But I do admit the evidence is starting to point otherwise...

What a shitty group of PG's. Seriously. One sucks at offensive and taking care of the ball. Another at defense and can't stay healthy. A 3rd is a shooting guard trapped in a PG's body, but without the electric athletic ability of an Iverson or Starbury type.

I can't help but to wonder... when do we get the post that talks about the hypothetical of our point guard situation being upgraded tremendously... when we lose Durant to OK City and get Chris Paul's Hornets. (A simultaneous switch with the names changing in the process of course.)

It's happening. The writing is on the wall, and Stern will somehow come out looking like a good guy on all fronts.

Mark R said...

I'll be upfront, I am a personal friend of Luke's, so I do have a bias. At the same time, giving Luke a D or D- grade on this season shows that you have a bias as well. I don't know what it is because I don't know you but you should at least be honest enough to admit it. If anything, Ridnour should get an incomplete for this season where two significant injuries (his nose and quad) have dramatically impacted his play when he has been able to be on the court.
It's too soon to slap the "vagabond" label on Luke since he is still playing on the team that drafted him. I have confidence that he will be a 12/8 starting guard for his next team and, yes, I am assuming he will be traded. For some reason the people who get paid to judge NBA talent and his fellow players respect his game so teams are trying to land him. You will probably say good riddance and I will say it will be good for Ridnour.

Anonymous said...

Strong stuff.
Good work.

Anonymous said...

But on Mark's point, maybe an incomplete would have been better.

Maybe Ridnour gets a D on what he did indivdually on offense but a strong / top half +/- on/off and his individual defensive stats at 82games look pretty good and might warrant an upgrade into C range or that incomplete.

Anonymous said...

Mark, I'm a UO grad, so I've rooted for Ridnour for a long time now, and I defended him for the past couple of years when everyone was clamoring for Watson to get the full-time role. I can understand your point of view, but keep that in mind when you read what I wrote.

My reason for the D grade is this: his game has seemingly regressed as his career has gone along. I think you're right that Ridnour needs a new scenario, because as long as Earl Watson is here, it's just not going to work. I don't know if it's his confidence, his frustration at management for not having faith in his abilities or what, but you've got to admit that his stats are not improving.

FG%, 3 pt %, assists, turnovers, steals, whatever number you want to use, you can't honestly say that he's better now than he was three years ago. Whether that's due to injuries or minutes or whatever, it's the sad truth. Maybe you're right and I shouldn't use history when giving a grade, and just base his rating on what he's done this season, but you can't help but be frustrated at the seeming lack of development.

The bottom line is I WANT Luke Ridnour to succeed, just like I want Luke Jackson to succeed and Fred Jones to succeed and Terrell Brandon to succeed - but especially with Ridnour because 1) when his game is on, he makes the team more fun to watch, and 2) he plays for the Sonics. Maybe that success is waiting in another city, but I think everyone would agree that his future in Seattle isn't that bright.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

talk about doom and gloom. I know it's winter up there in Seattle but come on!
The only real disappointment this season is that Delonte West hasn't come through like we might have hoped. Durant's low percentages were completely predictable, he's a rookie thrust into the role of being the sole scorer on an NBA team. Green is doing okay. Collison is playing well. Those guys are the team's core and they are coming along well. Damien Wilkins has shown some real potential too.
Trade the rest or let their contracts expire! If we get a high-ish pick and use it well, plus free up some serious cap space before we have to re-sign KD and JG it will all work out very nicely. The mantra is: short term pain, long term gain!

Anonymous said...

Ridnour can be a 12pts/8assists guy but can he do it on a winner? He's got at least a few more months to show it here. I don't expect him to be traded until summer at earliest.

He was 10/6 on 04-05 winner. 12/7 and 12/5 the next two losing years without Daniels sharing the job and giving support when needed.

Project this season's stats to 32 minutes Ridnour would be 10/6 again. 12/8 is obviously reachable when healthy and in a consistent role but the questuon again is can he lead and help the team win enough to go that way?

41 games to show us.

Anonymous said...

Collison is a bright spot and his career best stats show that. He is here longterm at 30+ minutes I think and I am fine with that (whether it be as a starter or sub doesnt matter much)

But he is at career low on FG% so maybe he is at his limit on shots. And career low on free throws per minute. Not by a big amount but if he needed something to work on it would be passing up on some of the jumpers and drawing fouls a little more.

Anonymous said...


"The only real disappointment this season is that Delonte West hasn't come through like we might have hoped."


That's funny, although I'd consider the fact the Sonics are on pace for the worst record in team history to be kind of disappointing. You know, the fact they're 9-32? Hello?

Anonymous said...

Brando makes a good point.

We knew the team was gonna be really bad, so if 9-22 is that much of a surprise, then, well, you were maybe expecting too much. (I was hoping for 15 wins at the halfway point, but I realized that 9 wins was within the realm of possibility.)

We knew going in that Earl/Luke were highly unreliable. (Although, I have to admit, I was hoping for Luke to show some improvement...)

We knew going in that Weezy is inconsistent and complacent.

Given all that we knew, I count three genuine surprises (Collison's improved play, Szscerbiak's steady scoring, and Kurt Thomas' body holding up to provide some steady defense), and one genuine disappointment (the minimal impact of Delonte).

Of course, this is all trumped by the worst revelation of all--the fact that David Stern seems to be in favor of a Sonics move to OKC.