On Tap: The Seattle Supersonics

Kurt —  November 23, 2005

Normally I would warn you to guard against getting sick by eating too much turkey and stuffing then trying to watch the Laker offense.

But if the Lakers are going to get their offense looking like something less dysfunctional than the Bundys, this is the right team to do it against.

Seattle has the worst defense in the NBA so far, with a defensive rating of 116.8 (points per opponent possessions) and they are allowing other teams to shoot 53.7% (eFG%) against them, the worst in the league by 2.6%. Their defense has been suspect at every position except the two (Ray Allen likely will cover Kobe, that pair have great duels) — this is a chance for Lamar Odom, Chris Mihm, Smush Parker and just about everyone else who isn’t too banged up to play to step up.

And they need to start, because it is the lack of options outside of Kobe that is holding back the Laker attack. Kobe is taking 31.5 shots per 40 minutes, Odom is second on the team at 13.7 — less than half as many — and Smush is third at 12.9. It’s no wonder teams are double and triple teaming Kobe, and it’s no wonder that Kobe has seen his shooting percentage fall facing that pressure. Odom said in the L.A. Times he needed to be more aggressive, and he’s right. And now is the time to start.

Seattle also is allowing far too many easy put backs, letting opponents grab 34% of the chances on the offensive glass (the league average is 28%). This is a big chance for Mihm and Odom (still the Lakers best rebounder) to get some points inside, at least when Reggie Evans isn’t on the floor. (Seattle is very weak at the five with Johan Petro and Vitaly Potapenko, so this could be a good game for Mihm.)

Despite the defensive woes, Seattle has played better lately, having won four of their last six. Not coincidentally, that started to happen since Nick Collison was inserted in as the starting power forward, providing some defense and rebounding. And the Sonics can still fill up the bucket.

Ray Allen is still maybe the game’s best sharpshooter, hitting 51.2% (eFG%) while shooting 46.9% of his shots from three-point range (he is shooting 33% from beyond the arc). He’s averaging 24.8 points per 40 minutes. What’s more, Allen leagues the league in +/-, with a +34.9 Roland Rating so far this season (that means over the course of 48 minutes, the team is nearly 35 points better with him on the court rather than off).

The other key scorer for Seattle is Rashard Lewis, who is averaging 23.4 points per 40 minutes and is shooting 56%. He’s also getting the free throw line 6.6 times per game, so his true shooting percentage is a very healthy 62.3%.

However, things have started colder for guys who were keys last season for Seattle — Luke Ridnour is shooting 35.8% as the go-to guy out top and Vladimir Radmanovic is down to 46.8% coming off the bench. This is a team that misses Antonio Daniels.

So enjoy your turkey dinner and have a slice of pumpkin pie when the Lakers tip off at 7:30. And let’s hope what we see doesn’t make us sick.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Kurt

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2 responses to On Tap: The Seattle Supersonics

  1. Players the Lakers could/should be able to get for almost nothing:

    Ruben Patterson – Looks like a Terrell Owens situation up in Portland.

    Latrell Sprewell – He may not have much left, but he has to still have more than most of the Lakers’ bench.

    Robert “Tractor” Traylor – Good Rebounder, decent all-around player. Big body who can make things easier for teammates. Had heart surgery near beginning of season a la Ronnie Turriaf, but is looking to return to the league before the season’s through.

    Shawn Kemp – A shot in the dark. Probably don’t want this lunkhead around Kwame and Andrew Bynum, but – even at 36 – if this guy were somehow to come back in good shape with a good attitude – it would be the story of the season.

    Jay Williams – Maybe he’ll never be what he was. If he has any game left, might be worth a gamble.

  2. man, i want to punch phil in the back of the head.

    lamar says he wants to step up and be more aggressive, try and become that necessary 2nd reliable scoring option…and phil says please don’t??? hasn’t HE been saying that lamar should be more aggressive also?

    especially weird considering all the injuries they’re dealing with at the moment.