What Could Have Been...

Motivated primarily by the "controversy" over whether the Blazers should have taken Durant or Oden, I watched the Suns at the Sonics. This would be a chance to see Durant in front of his home (for now) fans.

I actually think it is...or should be...less controversial now than it was at the time, even though Oden suffered a couple of unfortunate injuries. He has also made clear he is ecstatic to be in Portland, he wants to be with the team, and he wants to PLAY. This is a pick that Portland fans will enjoy for many, many years. Meanwhile, Seattle got the one man wrecking crew of Kevin Durant.

Of course, one man does not make a team. If you have doubts, check out the Lakers as they lose game after game despite having the talented Kobe Bryant. Here is a guy who can score, rebound, pass, and defend and his scoring is virtually at will...yet the Lakers are about a .500 team.

And Durant will not get some of the advantages Bryant does. If he travels, palms it, or charges, he is going to get called.

Durant is exciting to watch and, for the Sonics fans, at times frustrating. He has prodigious talent. He can run the floor, jump out of the building, drive on anyone, get his shot, and he sees the floor very well.

However, he also tends to play out of control at times. Sure, he can drive on anyone, elevate, and take a short shot inside the lane. But, at least at this point in his career, he often does it out of control and his shots can be a bit wild.

He is not afraid to take those shots, however. He will keep shooting, driving, and making things happen. Will it work? It does for Iverson. On nights when his crazier shots are falling he will be unstoppable and will be able to carry the Sonics to victories in games they should not even be within 20 points. When his shots are not falling, he will shoot them out of games they might have won. Kind of reminds me of Allan Iverson.

Even though Lewis and Allen are gone, he does have some help. Wilcox is a beast on the blocks and can cause problems down there. Collison will grind, Watson can get hot, Ridenour can create a little bit, and they love to run.

In fact, that is their plan for winning...just plain score, score, score and hope the opponents miss a few shots. The Sonics offense looks a lot like playground pick-up games with lots of players leaking out early, lots of creating their own awkward shots, and very little setting each other up.

Seattle's defense leaves a little bit to be desired. Against the Suns, who last year led the league in three pointers, they played a strange defense that left the 3 point shooters wide open so they could not defend the basket.

Read that last sentence again.

The only reason the Suns did not score 140 points was their shooters were ice cold. Time after time they would have 2 or 3 seconds to stand wide open, load up their shot...and throw up something that rimmed out. If you leave their 3 point shooters that open that often you are going to give up a LOT of points most nights. Of course, letting Marion and Stoudemire catch the ball in the paint with nobody around them will lead to a few highlights as well...

Seattle is in for a long year. They will score a boatload of points some nights but struggle terribly on others. They will play a lot of teams close only to fade in the 4th quarter. Durant and Green provide hope for the future but they look like a lottery team again.

Phoenix, meanwhile, is going to be tough. They have so many weapons...when Grant Hill is no higher than your 4th or 5th can score points. They also have strong role players in Bell and Skinner, guys who will clamp down defensively. If anyone doesn't know how Nash improves a team they simply no nothing about basketball...and players like Stoudemire and Marion don't need a lot of help.

Nor can you relax against their second team as Barbosa and Diaw can explode on any given night and drop 15 - 20 on you in no time flat. They are fun and exciting to watch. At least twice less than 3 seconds expired between the Suns taking possession and finishing at the basket. You will need your track shoes against Phoenix.

But there are holes. Sure, they are a great 3 point shooting team...but they are too ready to dial from long distance when better opportunities present themselves. If they are getting open looks early they will stagnate, stop moving on offense and just pitch a tent outside the arc waiting for their turn to fire up a trey. If those aren't falling, it can take them a few minutes to get back in their aggressive mode.

Both teams will be fun to watch when they visit Portland. Phoenix because they are so good and entertaining and Seattle because Portland should win almost every game against them. Wow, I am starting to sound like Agent 0 here...

No comments: