Tuesday, January 22

Race To the Finish

And down the stretch they come!

Have you ever been to a racetrack? You know that exciting feeling when the leading horses come sprinting towards the finish, with jockeys whipping them harder and harder, hooves pounding, noses straining forward, a whole stadium alive with anticipation?

Yeah, um, that feeling won’t be happening so much in KeyArena this year.

The Sonics are halfway home, 41 games in the books, and rather than the feeling of halfway to something exciting, it’s more akin to the feeling a six-year-old gets when he’s finished half of his spinach. Sure, half of the mess is gone, but he’s still got half of it left. And just like the spinach, the Sonics’ second half is going to be hard to swallow.

What can we say about the first half-year of the “Culture Club?” What, you don’t remember how “culture” was going to re-shape the Sonics? How Sam Presti and PJ Carlesimo were going to fly into town and magically transform the Sonics from a bunch of defenseless gunners to a tenacious pack of Michael Cooper wannabees? You know, make the Sonics into San Antonio with a latte?

Right, reality. Sorry, must have forgotten about that inconvenience non-San Antonio teams have of not being able to utilize Tim Duncan every night. Funny how superstars make all regimes look like geniuses.

But enough of that – let’s focus upon the task at hand. Herewith, a brief recap of the worst half-season in Sonic history.

BEST JOB OF GETTING HIS
Wally Szczerbiak has renaissanced (!) his career with the highest points per minutes of his professional life. Here’s a shocker for you: Wally, who never met a shot he didn’t like, is averaging more shot attempts per minute this season than in any season of his career. Yikes.

MOST AWKWARD CONVERSATION
In three weeks, when Sam Presti phones Kurt Thomas to tell him he’s been traded:

SP: Kurt, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’ve been ...
KT: I’ll be there in four hours. Call my wife and tell her to start the car.
SP: Don’t you want to know where ...
KT: No.

SHOCKING POSSIBILITY
If the rumored Wally/Watson to Miami for Ricky Davis/Dorrell Wright/Jason Williams deal is pulled off, the Sonics will have had four point guards play for them this year, earning a combined total of $23.1 million – and none of them were worth a damn.

SAD STAT
Sonic opponents have scored in triple digits 26 times this year. The Sonics have reached three figures 14 times.

SAD STAT II
Since the middle of December, the Seahawks – whose season ended ten days ago – have as many wins (two) as the Sonics.

CAN I GET A TAPE MEASURE ON AISLE THREE?
Kevin Durant, a 6’9” shooting guard, is averaging 4.6 rebounds per 36 minutes this year.

Bobby Jackson, a 6’1” backup point guard, is averaging 4.5 rebounds per 36 minutes.

DOES THIS WORRY ANYONE ELSE?
Durant is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete, no argument. But is anyone else concerned that he has been given carte blanche to put up some of the ugliest offensive shooting numbers this side of Vernon Maxwell? 40% from the floor, 29% from beyond the arc? Leading the team in shot attempts? Hey, I understand, he’s young, he’s learning and all that, but is this the right way for The Next Big Thing to learn the ropes in the NBA? Can some stat guy run the numbers and let me know if any future superstar ever had a start to his career like this? And at what point do the mounting losses begin to affect his mental outlook?

OUCH
The Sonics have one player (Chris Wilcox) shooting higher than 50% from the field this year. Last year, twelve Sonics shot better than 43%. This year, the number is four.

LET ME AMEND THAT POSITION
The Sonics began 2007 by claiming the Sonics were an integral part of the Seattle fabric, and thus deserving of a new stadium. They began 2008 by claiming the Sonics’ departure would have “no effect” on the city’s economy. In the same press conference, Clay Bennett said he was “cool” with homosexuality and was donating $1 million to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

HUH?
As a starter, Earl Watson shoots 38% on 3-pointers and 41% on all shots. As a reserve, he shoots 25% on 3-pointers and 46% on all shots. Which leads to the conclusion that the best way to utilize Earl Watson is infrequently.

GETTING HIS RHYTHM
Damien Wilkins’ minutes played in the past ten games: 9, 11, 17, 31, 20, ½, 21, 28, 12, 13. Since Wilkins was relegated to irregular minutes, the Sonics have gone 0-11.


Well, that’s enough for one day. We’ll re-commence the commiserating tomorrow afternoon.

9 comments:

André said...

The Sonics are one of only five teams in the NBA never to have lost 60 games in one single regular season (I think the others are the Lakers, the Knicks, the Kings and the Jazz...). Do you think that record will make it through this season? I'm just curious: does this mean anything to you? Is it important to you guys, up there in Seattle, that the Sonics stay in this group? I actually think hanging on to that for more than forty years says a lot about a franchise... It seems to me that it's, at least, a thing you can feel proud about - sure, we've had some bad teams over the years, but they always dignifyed the city, the fans and, most importantly, the Sonics.

What do you feel about this? Wouldn't it be hard to look at the standings in April, and see us there, for the first time in team history, at... like... 18-64, or 17-65?

(A portuguese Sonics fan)*

anonymous#12 said...

The Sonics are halfway home, 41 games in the books, and rather than the feeling of halfway to something exciting, it’s more akin to the feeling a six-year-old gets when he’s finished half of his spinach. Sure, half of the mess is gone, but he’s still got half of it left. And just like the spinach, the Sonics’ second half is going to be hard to swallow.

Great analogy!

What do you feel about this? Wouldn't it be hard to look at the standings in April, and see us there, for the first time in team history, at... like... 18-64, or 17-65?

It's hard for me but don't ask the tank freaks, they get off on the idea big time.

RJ said...

Andre that is an interesting find.
Right now I'd say the final record doesn't matter much to me. Hopefully they figure a few things out and play better by end of season and know what they need to change. A really down year happens to almost everybody. If they play better next season it will fade. But they will face the same challenges in a tough west so they need to get a lot better thru hard work and smart moves.

Anonymous said...

Wally/Watson for Davis/Williams/Wright...uhhhummm

The good: Clears up $18 million in 2008-09 and $5.8 million in 2009-10 putting us way, way under the cap... Maybe pick up a pick or two to play with (perhaps, use this and the Suns pick to move up to get two picks in the top 10 of next year lottery)... Make it so we are only paying one crappy point guard next year instead of two opening the way for Derrick Rose (Cold hand Luke has two more years of a $6.5mil/year contract and D-West is in the last year of a rather cheap ($1.8mil) contract.)... allows us to start getting better one year sooner (seeing that we will have more than $20 million in cap room this winter)

The Bad: Since it opens up a lot more room sooner, it might be an indication that ownership thinks they will win in court... I feel better about my daughter becoming a stripper than the idea of Ricky Davis spending half a season with Durant... why would Miami do this? It only compounds their cap nightmare and what they are getting will not make them a contender in the east... creates a temporary PG nightmare.

I say go for it... Only if you can extract Miami first round pick in the process. Then release Davis, Williams, and Wright before their feet even touch the floor of Key Arena.

- Dan

Charles said...

As far as Durant's shooting numbers, there is another guy who started similarly...he shot 41.7% from the floor, 29% from 3 and 75% from the free throw line. He led his team in shot attempts and averaged 20.9 pts per game. His name? LeBron James.

To me it is highly encouraging that Durant is putting up the numbers that he is because he is not NEARLY as physically developed as LeBron was. As his interior game develops with his body, I think that you will see his scoring increase more than LeBron's has.

Anonymous said...

Lebron did other things that Durant only wishes he could do as a rookie. Lebron still had the ability to take over games because he is a superior driver and superior at drawing fouls. Durant isn't a good driver and isn't good at drawing fouls at this point.

Anonymous said...

hopefully avoiding a 20 win season is a motivation to the players - whether they succeed or not

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