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SCOUTING REPORTS
Jack McCallum
November 07, 1988
Michael Jordan (below) is still dominant in Chicago, but a lot of other stars have switched uniforms. That leads to questions, which the author seeks to answer even as he picks the 16 playoff teams—and, oh yes, picks Detroit to beat Seattle for the title
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November 07, 1988

Scouting Reports

Michael Jordan (below) is still dominant in Chicago, but a lot of other stars have switched uniforms. That leads to questions, which the author seeks to answer even as he picks the 16 playoff teams—and, oh yes, picks Detroit to beat Seattle for the title

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Plenty of reasons. The SuperSonics have an ideal forward combination—Xavier McDaniel to shoot, Michael Cage to rebound, and both of them to throw bodies around inside. The Sonics are reasonably strong at center with Alton Lister and Olden Polynice. They have an intelligent and unselfish point guard in Nate McMillan. They have an invaluable movable part in 6'9" Derrick McKey, one of the NBA's most versatile players. They have an excellent, hard-driving coach in Bernie Bickerstaff.

And they have something else, too—a killer spirit. McDaniel has it. Cage has it. Polynice has it. Bickerstaff has it. Scoring guard Dale Ellis (25.8 points per game last season) might have it too, if he would only relax and try to enjoy the game.

Look for the Sonics to struggle and perhaps even do a little scrapping among themselves. But they will come together in the postseason and reach the Western Conference finals against the Lakers, as they did in 1987. This time, though, Seattle will prevail. Oh, how the sparks will fly against the Pistons in the championship series.

2 L.A. LAKERS
If winning two in a row was so hard, isn't it crazy to think about three?

Unreasonable perhaps, but not ridiculous. The only thing that's going to get the Lakers to the conference finals is the challenge of going after a third straight championship as a goodbye gift to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The Laker bench suddenly looks respectable with the addition of former Net forward Orlando Woolridge, who was acquired as a free agent after spending part of last season in drug rehabilitation.

Magic Johnson, who came into camp at 218 pounds, eight lighter than last year, has his eye on the MVP trophy he surrendered last season to Jordan. Byron Scott will be better than he was in 1987-88. Ditto James Worthy. A.C. Green's rebounding and defensive tenacity will take some of the pressure off Worthy.

L.A.'s spirit is willing, and its flesh is anything but weak. But the odds are against the Lakers' repeating, and it says here that they will fall to Seattle in a sizzling Western final.

3 UTAH
Can a team with little depth reach the heights?

The long answer is, If anyone can, the Jazz can. The short answer is, No. Sure, Pat Riley won with eight players and K.C. Jones won with six or seven, but Utah's talent is not to be confused with Laker or Celtics talent.

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