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Follow the Sonics off and on the court with reporters Percy Allen and Jayda Evans.

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November 29, 2007

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen at 12:29 AM

This was a game between two teams going in opposite directions. Seattle is 2-14 and Orlando is 14-3.

I like Kevin Durant, but Dwight Howard is exhibit No. 1 why the NBA places a premium value on centers and why the Durant-Greg Oden debate was never much of a debate in my mind. When you have a chance to take a dominant center, you always take the dominant center. Sure there's a chance Oden will turn into Charlotte's Emeka Okafor, but there's also a chance he can become a beast like Howard so you take the risk.

Howard is the real deal. And he's 21.

What's interesting to note here is how the Magic are building their team around him. It's clear they have an identity that begins with Howard. They've' surrounded him with shooters in Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Keith Bogans, Maurice Evans, JJ Redick and Brian Cook. When Howard forces a double team, he passes out to the perimeter for a three-pointer.

Orlando took 30 treys tonight and sank 10.

The Magic built this team through the draft, free agency and trades. Howard and Jameer Nelson are the only draftees who see a lot of action. Nelson came in a draft-day trade, but Orlando is his first and only team and the team basically drafted him. Folks thought GM Otis Smith was an idiot for giving Lewis $118M, but if the Magic make it to the Eastern Conference Finals then he'll look like a genius. Even though Smith committed about $250M of owner Rich DeVos money to Lewis and Howard, who got an extension, the Magic are under the luxury tax this season. Next season they're over the threshold and in two years they'll have to figure out what to do with Turkoglu.

But for now, the roster, starters and rotation is set. Carlos Arroyo and Jameer Nelson are the PGs, Bogans, Evans and Redick are the SGs, Turkoglu, Lewis and Cook rotate at F and Howard and Adonal Foyle man the post. The symmetry is flawless.

Only four players remain from Howard's rookie season in 2004-05. Keep this in mind as the Sonics mature. This year is not about wins and losses. It's about Durant's development, identifying the one or two players who will stick with the club and the players the front office can use as trade bait as the trading deadline nears and establishing an identity.

The Sonics have no identity partly because their best player - Durant - has no idea what type of NBA player he wants to be. It's nice to see him try to take over games in the late stages as he has this week, however, the stats I look at first for him are FG attempts, FT attempts and assists-to-turnover ratio.

Tonight he took 21 shots and scored 22 points. That's not efficient. He also took a career high 10 FTs, which is fantastic. He also had four assists and two turnovers. Not bad. He's best as a playmaker rather than a jump shooter. That's the next stage of his development.

Durant has got to learn how to set up his teammates in the early stages of the game and then know when to take over in the end. He's got to make the game easier for teammates. Just once, I'd like to see him throw an alley-oop pass to Chris Wilcox or figure out how to coax points from his PGs. Durant has got to take ownership of this team. Right now, he's just playing, which is OK because he's just 16 games into his NBA career. He'll figure it out. The good ones do and he's pretty good.

What's a little disturbing is the slow and uneven development of Jeff Green, who has yet to find a place on the floor offensively where he's comfortable. I'm not sure if he's a post-up player, slasher or shooter. He tries to do it all, but he's got to develop something consisent that he knows will work.

Time will tell, but the Sonics may have been premature in dealing Ray Allen for the No. 5 pick. GM Sam Presti told me back then that he didn't believe he could get a top five pick for Allen in 2008 and felt it was wise to maximize his potential in a deep draft.

Well next year is considered a deep draft as well and wouldn't it be nice to have two lottery picks. Imagine taking Memphis G Derrick Rose No. 1 or No.2 then taking a gamble on a big man like Georgetown C Roy Hibbert later in the lottery. The Supes have two picks, but one will certainly not be a lottery pick.

Post/read Comments (9) »


Comments

Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Thanks for the analysis...

Posted by Merrill at 5:24 AM, Nov 29, 2007

Myabe true, but if Wally and Durant shoot 50% they win. That and I think going into a zone at the end was a bad coaching mistake, no matter how bad Howard was killing themm inside it is still just 2 points not 3. If you stay in the man to man, double and rotate at least you have somoen contesting the 3 point shooter.Orlando is too goood a shooting team to let them stand in the corners without a hand in their face

Posted by Greg Southern at 7:06 AM, Nov 29, 2007

Lewis' contract is still a crazy deal. I have watched him closely on the NBA Pass and in 5 or 6 games this year he shows up as their 4th guy (behind the MVP, Turk & Nelson). His contract will throw the already skewed NBA financial system into a tailspin (see A.Igodula, Gordon, Deng and Okafor; all have turned down huge contract extensions)

Where does it all end?

Posted by SH at 7:08 AM, Nov 29, 2007

Isn't it a little soon to be disappointed in Jeff Green.It's seems it would be hard for anyone to feel comfortable the way Carlisimo has been playing him.No set pattern to his playing time or the position that he is playing would make it hard on any rookie

Posted by antb at 5:02 PM, Nov 29, 2007

Great summation of where we're at, Percy, but I disagree with you on Green. It's true he doesn't really know what he should do on offense yet, but his defense, his rebounding, his full court intense NBA body all bodes well. Those Scottie Pippen comparisons might be a little dreamy, but he has the potential to be a guy who really impacts a game with his versatility and athleticism and smarts. He often is the liveliest player we have on the floor. Arms up on defense, anticipating loose balls, etc.

Posted by Jimmy at 8:09 PM, Nov 29, 2007

Jimmy you're right. And yes, it's way too early to say for certain how anybody will play in their NBA career. Green is just 16 games into what will likely be a 12-year career. Still, it's my job to explain what I see and I see a guy whose good at many things, but he's not exceptional at anything. I love the energy. I think Green is the toughest player on the roster with the exception of Kurt Thomas, which says as much about the team than it does about him. But here's the scary part. I think the guy may be a bigger version of Desmond Mason. I love Mason, but the guy was limited offensively in so many ways.

Posted by Percy at 10:30 PM, Nov 29, 2007

I appreciate your analysis. I agree that it is a little too early to give up on Jeff Green. My thought in the draft though was that Durant and Green play the same position (3). Only time will tell if they can excel together.

I'm not worried about them losing this year. In fact, I want the #1 pick. I'll give up this year to get that pick as long as Durant and Green improve their game and PJ figures out which players will work in his system and who won't.

Posted by mike at 4:21 PM, Nov 30, 2007

How about a Josh Howard comparison?

Posted by Bawls at 10:56 PM, Nov 30, 2007

Sorry about that!

Posted by bawls at 10:57 PM, Nov 30, 2007

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