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Mark Bechtel
October 23, 2006
To stay on the court, this floor general needs to step up his defensive intensity
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October 23, 2006

14 Seattle Supersonics

To stay on the court, this floor general needs to step up his defensive intensity

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G EARL WATSON 8.9 ppg 2.3 rpg 0.97 spg 43.0 FG% 40.4 3FG%
F-C NICK COLLISON 7.5 ppg 5.6 rpg 0.53 bpg 0.32 spg 52.5 FG%
C ROBERT SWIFT 6.4 ppg 5.6 rpg 1.19 bpg 0.32 spg 51.5 FG%
G DAMIEN WILKINS 6.5 ppg 2.3 rpg 1.3 apg 0.88 spg 44.4 FG%
F DANNY FORTSON 3.8 ppg 3.4 rpg 0.09 bpg 52.9 FG% 76.7 FG%

To say that the Sonics played matador defense last season is more than the usual insult to matadors. Seattle ol�'d its way to epic levels of ineptitude, allowing 114.4 points per 100 possessions, the third-worst mark ever. But that number would have been higher if not for a team meeting that coach Bob Hill called after the trade deadline. He told his troops that because they weren't going to make the playoffs, they had two choices: They could pack it in or start working for the next season. "To a man, they all chose the second option," says Hill, who was elevated from assistant when Bob Weiss was fired last January. "Our training camp started last year."

Before the meeting, the Sonics went 21--36 and allowed 106.8 points per game; after, they went 14--11 and allowed 102.9. One of Hill's strategic decisions helped: He played point guard Earl Watson in crunch time. Acquired from the Nuggets in a deadline deal, Watson supplanted Luke Ridnour, who's excellent at running the offense--they were third in the NBA in points per possession--but sorely lacking at the other end of the floor.

Hill says he has not made up his mind who will start this season, but his refusal to endorse Ridnour speaks volumes. Ridnour, 25, has a year left on his contract, and if he and the team don't hammer out an extension by Oct. 31, they can't talk again until the season is over. Still, Hill's not worried about Ridnour's getting distracted by minutes or money. "He's one of those guys you've got to kick out of the gym," says Hill. "And then when you kick him out, he gets in his car and goes to another gym."

Projected Starting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics

Record: 35--47 (11th in West)
Points scored: 102.6 (2nd in NBA)
Points allowed: 105.6 (30th)
Coach: Bob Hill
(second season with the Sonics)

Johan Petro

PPG 5.2
RPG 4.4
APG 0.2
BPG 0.75
SPG 0.37
FG% 51.0
FT% 62.7

Rashard Lewis

PPG 20.1
RPG 5.0
APG 2.3
BPG 0.64
SPG 1.31
FG% 46.7
3FG% 38.4

Luke Ridnour

PPG 11.5
RPG 3.0
APG 7.0
SPG 1.56
FG% 41.8
3FG% 28.9
FT% 87.7

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