Friday, April 20, 2007

Seven Steps to Save the Supersonics
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The Sonics are not in a great place. They haven't been good at all in recent years, they have wasted their last 3 top picks on project centers (I wouldn't mind one... but 3?), and the threat that the team may pack up and move to Oklahoma City is becoming more of a reality. There are several steps that need to be taken to fix the problems of the Seattle Supersonics. Here is how I would do it:

1. Stay in Seattle. Somehow, some way, they need to stay in the Seattle area. Even if it's in the suburbs of Seattle, that's fine, but they've got to stay the Seattle Supersonics.

2. Let Rashard Lewis walk, or try to work a sign-and-trade. Lewis is our second best player, and with Ray Allen's deteriorating ankles, he may be our best building block for the future. But the problem with Rashard Lewis is that he isn't a leader, and neither is Ray. A team is not going to go anywhere with their two best players lacking leadership skills. You know your team has a problem when it's "leader" is a guy who doesn't even get consistent minutes. Earl Watson, ladies and gentlemen. But back to Rashard... simply put, he isn't worth a max contract. He is a great player, and I'd love to see him stay, but not at the price we would have to pay.

3. Draft Jeff Green. If Jeff Green leaves Georgetown and jumps to the NBA, and the Sonics have the #5 pick, they need to draft Green. Even if they are going to keep Lewis, the Sonics can play small with Green and Lewis at the two forward spots. Throughout his career at Georgetown, and especially this last season, he has proven to be not only NBA ready, but a player who could be an MVP down the line. This guy played in a Princeton offense. If he had played at just about any other school, he would've averaged a double-double. There are only two other choices that the Sonics could make with this pick that I would agree with: Corey Brewer (maybe a little more potential than Green, but I'm not completely sold on him yet) or Mike Conley, Jr. Conley would be an interesting pick, because we would be taking him a little too high. But he is the best PG in the draft and has loads of potential, and the Sonics second most glaring need is at point guard. But I would only be ok with Conley if the Sonics resign Lewis.

4. Use the second-round picks wisely. The Sonics own the second round pick of Memphis as well as their own. I wouldn't have a problem with packaging these two picks to move up to the late first round, but if they are going to keep them both, they should use one to strengthen the front court, specifically defensively, and the other depends on how they use the first pick. If they select Conley, this pick should be used on a swingman. If they draft Green or Brewer, they should use this pick on a point or combo guard. That being said, they should use one of these picks on Sean Williams of Boston College. The Sonics have zero presence under the basket on defense. Their starting frontcourt doesn't have a player over 6'10" and neither Nick Collison nor Chris Wilcox are shot blockers. Due to character issues, Williams should be available, and he may be the best shot blocker in the country. Assuming the Sonics draft Jeff Green, I would like to see the other second round pick used to select Aaron Brooks from Oregon or Rodney Stuckey from Eastern Washington. Stuckey might not go pro, but he is an explosive scorer with decent size (6'4"), but not a true point guard. Brooks is undersized (5'11") but is a natural leader and can run a team at different tempos. Both have local ties, and I would be ok with either of them in a Seattle uni. If the Sonics use their first round pick on Conley, then this pick should be used on a swingman or small forward. The players that appeal to me in this spot are Jared Dudley of Boston College and Alando Tucker of Wisconsin. Both of these guys proved to be leaders and posses great intangibles over the last four years. There's a better chance of Dudley dropping to this spot than Tucker, and I would be happy with either.

5. Revamp the point guard. Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson aren't getting it done. Whether the means are the draft, trade, or free agency, something needs to be done about this. If it takes trading a guy like Nick Collison in order to do so, I'm fine with it. I'm ok with either of them as a backup, but I'm not ok with either of them as a starter or using them both in a platoon situation.

6. Involve Chris Wilcox. The guy is a freak of nature. He gets most of his buckets in transition, but when the Sonics do use him in the half court, he has shown he can get the job done. The problem is, they don't use him in the half court. Many writers are calling him a bust and an underachiever, but I feel like he hasn't gotten a chance to backup the contract he signed.

7. Figure out which center you want to develop. Robert Swift was the leader in this category until he blew out his knee in the final preseason game and has since put on weight and struggled with rehab. Johan Petro and Mouhamed Saer Sene could both be solid players, but they could as easily both be complete busts. I'm not even sure which one of these guys I would rather see as the main guy, but Swift would be the most fun to watch.

So, there are my Seven Steps to Save the Supersonics. But in reality, there's only one way to save them... by keeping them in Seattle.

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