Continuing from Tuesday’s theme ...
(NOT SO) TOP THREE
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.
ON THE REBOUND
Jeff Green had more offensive rebounds in November (34) than Kevin Durant has all season (28).
YES, BUT HE KNOWS HIS WINES
PJ Carlesimo has now gone 55-145 in his past four years as a head coach.
CUTTING IT CLOSE
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.
HOW WIDE IS THE VALLEY
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.
WHIP INFLATION NOW!
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.