Seattle Sonics Season Preview

by October 01, 2007

By Emry DowningHall

For the rest of us, green light means go. For Kevin Durant, it means, fire!

When Seattle selected Durant with the #2 pick in this June’s draft, it was arguably the biggest no-brainer selection in NBA history. The Portland Trailblazers had won the rights to the #1 pick and with that they were essentially drafting for themselves and Seattle.

Portland went with Oden, Seattle took Durant. What happened next is well documented; let’s hope Oden’s recovery is more Amare then Penny.

But while we cross our fingers for Oden, and while doing so hand Durant the ROY trophy, it’s time to take a look at the 2007-2008 Seattle Supersonics.

This here is a youth movement. Beyond resident senior Kurt Thomas (12th season) and season-ending ankle injury waiting to happen, Wally Szczerbiak (8th season), the oldest guy on this squad is Earl Watson.

If you’re a fan of the green and yellow you have to be pleased with the start of first year GM Sam Presti. He drafted Kevin Durant and cooked up a pretty nice package for Ray Allen, which included Jeff Green, Delonte West, and Wally’s World. He then managed to finagle a trade exception from the Orlando Magic out of the Rashard Lewis exodus. Finally, he topped it all off by grabbing two first round draft picks along with Kurt Thomas, a veteran defender, in the annual Phoenix Suns payroll slashing fire-sale.

Beyond the new faces suiting up for the opening tip, Seattle also has a fresh, yet very familiar, face behind the bench. P.J. Carlesimo has emerged from his stint under Gregg Popovich’s wing with a rehabbed reputation, two championship rings, and the stigma that he can’t get along with NBA players, seemingly behind him. P.J. is a defensive-minded guy, and it will be interesting to see how he sells this mindset to his largely inexperienced roster.

Last season, the Sonics finished dead last in the Northwest Division. They racked up 51 losses (and only 31 wins). They were decent at home but abysmal on the road tallying only 11 wins.

When Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis were healthy, they were tough on the wing, but beyond Chris Wilcox, the Sonics were average at every other position. Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson are serviceable, but both are better off as backups then starting point guards.

With both Allen and Lewis out of town the scoring load will be heaved onto the shoulders of Durant and trickled down to Wilcox. If they can finally get some healthy minutes from Robert Swift, we could finally get a sense of what he can contribute to the team. On a side note, have you seen him lately? Whoa.

My prediction for the 2007-2008 Sonics? Pains, growing pains. While I am positive Durant will put up serious numbers for a rook, he will struggle initially with the physical nature of the league. I don’t put much stock in his inability to bench 185 pounds, but he will need to fill out to hold up to the 82-game schedule. I see him putting up 18 points, 5 boards, and 3 assists per night. The fantasy GM in me also loves the fact that he will also average nearly a steal and a block, as well.

I think the NBA future is bright for a do-it-all-type like Jeff Green, but I would have went elsewhere with the #5 selection if I were making the call. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Ridnour or Watson moved before the trade deadline, moving West to point and Green sliding into the starting five.

One thing that jumps out about the 2007-2008 Sonics: I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to watch a team that will likely finish in the basement of the Northwest division. The only thing that will keep them from finishing dead last is the fact that Kevin Garnett is no longer playing for the Wolves. I predict a very entertaining 28-win season.

Projected starting lineup:

Point Guard – Earl Watson

Shooting Guard – Delonte West

Small Forward – Kevin Durant

Power Forward – Nick Colison

Center – Chris Wilcox

6th man – Robert Swift