Preview & Chat: The Seattle Supersonics

Kurt —  November 3, 2006

UPDATE II: Kobe is playing tonight, he says so himself on his Web site. (Thanks to Rob for the heads up.)

UPDATE: If you want to read a good preview, friend of the site Kevin Pelton has his up at the Sonics Web site.

Lights Out: It was such a big hit, that the throwback lighting will be there for the entire season – which is great news. I can’t wait to see what it’s like in person.

Kobe’s On: Kobe Bryant said he would make his decision on whether or not to play tonight based on how he feels today, but that his knee is feeling better. If he’s not back tonight, Sunday looks very likely.

Why Lamar Odom is hot: Look at his shot chart — in two games he has taken 26 shots right at the rim (dunks, layups or something in very close) and 12 from the rest of the field. You shoot better when you can get in that close. Let’s hope he keeps that up whether or not Kobe returns tonight.

Let me add that it’s amazing to me how well Lamar does considering he so strongly prefers to go left — he does it 60.3% of the time he drives (he gets to the basket on three-quarters of those attempts and shoots 63.8% on those). When he goes right he is average at best, shooting 42.1% overall and 55.3% even when he gets all the way to the basket. This is not news — every team in the NBA says “don’t let Lamar go left” and yet he does it nightly,

Passing Fancy: One thing that makes the triangle thrive is big men who can pass the ball — it’s why the offense ran better last season with Luke Walton getting the ball in the high post. But in two games both Andrew Bynum and Vladimir Radmanovic have shown very adept passing skills for bigs, and that is a large part of why the offense has looked better than expected without Kobe.

It also means that Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm need to learn from this when they return or risk losing some of their minutes.

Keep Your Friends Close: Devin Green was the first selection of the Lakers in the D-League draft last night, so he will be playing at Staples for the D-fenders. That’s great news as he is right there for the 10-day contract or if the Lakers make a two-for-one trade.

Also, look for him to be the best player on the D-fenders, at large part because while the rest of the guys are working to figure out the triangle offense Green will be well versed in it.

Swift Demise: Imagine having a promising young center who started to show flashes of his potential, so you give him a bigger role — and he instantly goes down with a season-ending knee injury. That’s what happened to the Sonics and Robert Swift, who was going to do some learning on the job this year but was showing signs of what he could be (and sporting a new look that is, um, well….). Now he’s out for the season. Wilcox and Collison will pick up the majority of his minutes, with Petro getting some as well.

Blogging with the Enemy:
Sonics Central and Supersonics Soul.

Things to look for: The Sonics present the Lakers with a problem that plagued them last year — a team with a good point guard. Luke Ridnour has played well in the opener and got to the rim for 9 of his 16 shots. The Lakers need to make him pull up.

But you have to watch when he (or Earl Watson) passes, because both Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis can fill it up. Lewis had a team high 25 points in the opener (with a 59% true shooting percentage) and Allen had 22 (52.3% TS%). Allen actually gets most of his shots off isolation plays, but shots off screens is a close second. The problem with defending these two is they are good at just about every type of shot. The Lakers are going to have to play good team defense — as they did in the first two games — to make sure the Sonics don’t get too hot.

The good news is, the Lakers face what should be a weak defensive squad — last season the Sonics were last in the league in defense, giving up 115,9 points per 100 opponent possessions (for comparison, the Lakers were 106.9). In the opening game this season they let the Trailblazers shoot 56.2% (eFG%). If LA continues to run the offense, move without the ball and pass they should be able to score plenty.