Time to Lower the Boom on the Sonics

Published: January 16, 2008

First – I wanted to point you to the Bloggers MVP and ROY twice-monthly ranking that was recently posted over at sixers4guidos.com.  Unlike the previous three efforts, I participated.  They like me!  They really like me!

Chris Paul is 4th, but the difference between the number 1 spot(LeBron) and Paul at number 4 is a whopping 8 total points.  It falls of dramatically after that.  Tight race, but it's nice to have Paul neck and neck with the best in the league.

On to tonight's preview.  Oh . . . forgive me if I don't mention the ownership/moving stuff in this preview.  It's all too depressing:

Matchup: Sonics(9-28) @ Hornets(25-12)
Off Efficiency: Sonics 96.5(30th) , Hornets 105.0(13th)
Def Efficiency: Sonics 104.3(22nd), Hornets 100.1(4th)
Relevant Blogger: Sonics Central

I won't even get into recent records.  Seattle is a bad team, and the Hornets are a good one, but any game can get away from you – as we've seen before against the Timberwolves and Pacers.  The Hornets had good bounceback wins against Houston and the Heat after the drubbing they suffered at the hands of the Lakers and they need to keep up that intensity.  Our first game against this team was closer than it should have been, and I'd prefer to avoid that situation.

Stojakovic will be playing despite back stiffness after the Houston game.  Seattle has two day to day injured players in Wilcox and Ridnour. 

Positional Analysis:
PG: Chris Paul vs. L'Earl Ridson
Advantage: Hornets
Seattle runs the point guard position by committee.  Luke Ridnour's a solid offensive player, Earl Watson's a solid defensive player.  Neither are a complete point guard, and Ridnour is day to day with an injury.  Paul is a complete player and MVP candidate, and even if Ridnour and Watson were grafted together, he'd still dominate them.  Yay Paul!

SG: Morris Peterson vs. Kevin Durant
Advantage: Even
Another part of that Blogger ranking thing I mentioned above was the Rookie of the Year vote.   Hyped super-rookie Durant did get votes – lots of em – and ended up at the top of the ROY vote, but he's not exactly having a stellar season or the impact on his team that Paul did in his first season.  Durant is 6'10", shoots terribly(39%), never passes, doesn't defend, and has a worse rebound rate than half the 6'2" and under point guards in the league.  Before the draft, there were a lot of people dismissing concerns that were raised when Durant couldn't bench press a 185 lb bar even once.  I bet if he could, he'd be a lot better than he is now.  The kid needs to put on some muscle.  Peterson is streaky, but he's more efficient than Durant is and a better defender.

SF: Peja Stroke-jakovic vs. Jeff Green
Advantage: Hornets
Green is an energetic, do-a-little-of-everything sort of player.  But he's also a rookie and mistake prone, turning the ball over twice a game in only 24 minutes.  He'll get some nice rebounds, hit a couple shots, and play defense earnestly, fouling frequently.  Even with a stiff back, Stojakovic is a better offensive player, and I like this matchup for the Hornets on the Defensive end of the ball.  Green isn't a speedy forward, and Peja is good at staying in front of slower, bigger forwards and making them shoot over his 6-10 height.

PF: David "Fluffy" West vs. Nick Collison
Advantage: Hornets
Both are a little undersized for the Power Forward position.  Both can bang, rebound and hit jumpshots from 15 feet.  That's where the comparisons end, however, because West has a myriad of other offensive moves and an impressive ball-handling ability for a 6-9 guy.

C: Tyson Chandler vs. Kurt Thomas
Advantage: Hornets
Thomas is a wily veteran who always plays hard.  He'll probably get under Chandler's skin at some point if he's not forced to the bench due to fouls picked up covering for his teams abysmal perimeter defense.  Chandler is more skilled and a better athlete, so he'll win this battle, but Thomas will put up a good fight.

I don't trust our bench.  They've had two good games, but had such an awful stretch before that I just can't feel good about them.  I hope I'm wrong and they play well.  Seattle has three good backups in Ridnour, Delonte West and Szczczczczczerbiak.  Damien Wilkins is alright as well.  Chris Wilcox is solid if he's playing, though he's been injured.  If he plays, he'll take over the starting PF position and push Collison to the bench, where he'll do a very good job.

Honestly – I wish the Hornets would make a play for some of Seattle's guys.  They are all miscast as primary players but as secondary they'd be great.  If we could bring in any of this group: Kurt Thomas, Nick Collison, Luke Ridnour or Delonte West, I'd be happy.  Even Szczerbiak if his contract wasn't so massive.

Hornets win 104-86.

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